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Small business owners urge state to include minimum wage increase in budget

Annie Adams Owner of Second Chic wearing a denim button down and brown vest. Adams has long blonde hair and is smiling while sitting in a gold cushioned chair.
Annie Adams, owner of Second Chic, says that she wasn't ok with her team not feeling that they could could pay their rent and buy groceries with their current wage.

In Western New York, some business owners are calling for the state to raise and index the minimum wage as part of the final budget and pass the Raise the Wage Act. Annie Adams, owner of the consignment store Second Chic, says that she realized her employees were struggling and decided to increase wages.

“About a year ago, I gave my team a bonus. Then I doubled it because they had done so much higher than their goal," Adams said. "They looked at me with such a sense of relief that they didn't have to feel uncomfortable to pay their rent.

"And that just dawned on me right then and there that I wasn't OK with my team not being able to relax enough to pay there, because they can't figure out how to pay their rent or buy groceries. “

Adams said her workers now start at $15 an hour if they’re part-time, but can quickly increase to $16 or $17 an hour depending on performance. She pays managers $20 and above an hour.

Beyond improving the lives of workers, Adams says an increased minimum wage would also improve spending at businesses like hers.

The Raise the Wage Act would increase the minimum wage in Upstate New York to $16 in 2024, $18 in 2025, $20 in 2026, and then $21.25 plus indexing in 2027.

The bill is currently in committee in both the Senate and Assembly.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.