By Lauren Gellatly, Community Development Director @ Lowcountry Local First

lauren@lowcountrylocalfirst.org

As the only organization in the Lowcountry solely focused on providing resources, advocacy and training for locally-owned, independent businesses and farmers, we like to check in with our community to take a “temperature check” and gauge the state of local business. Lowcountry Local First conducted two 3-question surveys, one in the third quarter of 2013 and one in the fourth quarter of 2014. The survey was distributed to Lowcountry Local First’s business membership, which consists of over 500 local businesses across all sectors and ranging in size from sole proprietor to 200+ employees.

Weak sales topped the list in both 2013 and 2014 as the biggest concern for local businesses, with staffing issues also registering high on the list of concerns. Concerns over access to capital dropped significantly from 2013 to 2014.

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On a positive note, the majority of businesses planned either hire more workers or keep staffing levels the same, boding well for the local economy.

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The majority of businesses planned to either increase employee compensation or keep compensation levels the same.

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This year, we polled our membership on their thoughts on increasing the minimum wage. South Carolina does not have a state-designated minimum wage, but instead follows the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.


┬áPaul Saginaw, Co-founding Partner Zingerman’s Community of Businesses

Ann Arbor, MI on why he supports a minimum wage increase.

Small business owners and CEOs understand that their success depends on the overall health of the economy. And they recognize when workers are paid more, they spend more, and that helps the economy. According to a July 2014 poll of 555 small business owners conducted by the American Sustainable Business Council and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage:

  • 58% of small business owners believe that raising the minimum wage would increase consumer purchasing power.
  • 56% say that raising the minimum wage will help the economy overall.
  • When considering how a higher minimum wage might affect them, 53% said that it would lead to lower employee turnover, increased productivity and greater customer satisfaction. – Source: U.S. News & World Report, “A Higher Minimum Wage is Good for Business,” July 14, 2014
Source: http://www.usnews.com/opinion/economic-intelligence/2014/07/14/why-small-business-owners-back-a-minimum-wage-hike

We were pleased to learn 62% of our business respondents currently pay all employees above minimum wage, and 29% think an increase in the minimum wage will not affect their business. An even split of 13% responded that they believe raising the way would negatively affect their business by causing lay offs, cuts to hours or the need to raise prices, with 13% responding they believe an increase in the minimum wage would positively affect their business and the local economy with less employee turnover, higher productivity, and more disposable income for employees.

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What can you do?

For more information, please contact Lauren Gellatly at lauren[at]lowcountrylocalfirst.org

Lauren Gellatly
Community Development Director at Lowcountry Local First