Members in San Diego Testify at City Council Hearing on Implementation of Prop 1


Prop 1, passed by ballot measure in early June, raises San Diego's minimum wage and increases access to paid sick days

Today, Main Street Alliance members thanked the San Diego City Council for passing the minimum wage and earned sick days ordinance, celebrating the enormous raise for 170,000 hard working San Diegans. Francisco Garcia of The Building Workshop, Sarah Davis of Al Davis Furniture and Alma Rodriguez of Queen Bee's testified at the meeting to approve the budget committee’s recommendations on implementation and enforcement of the ordinance.

“Because hard-working San Diegans working full-time must be able to avoid homelessness, the council’s approval of this measure was necessary, and I strongly encourage that the implementing law is approved today,” says Sarah Davis of Al Davis Furniture. “An enforcement agency will level the playing field by ensuring honest businesses are not undercut by dishonest employers and ensure protections against bad actors.”

The San Diego minimum wage and earned paid sick days ordinance was originally approved by the City Council in 2014, but an opposition group successfully gathered referendum signatures to place the measure on the June 2016 ballot. The initiative, Proposition I, passed with more than 63% of the vote in June 2016.

According to Francisco Garcia of The Building Workshop, as the entire business community gets on the same page, it’s important to make sure they receive education to understand the implementation parameters, too.

“We want to ensure strong anti-retaliation penalties and stiff fines for repeat offenders and willful bad actors. Most San Diego employers are honest, and they play by the rules. We need to ensure that unscrupulous businesses are not allowed to skirt the law to gain a competitive advantage,” testified Mr. Garcia. He continued: “This is why we have to educate and inform and request that notices and postings be made available to both the employer and employees. This gives employees the right to review their pay records without fear of retaliation. Examples from other cities show that retaliation can take extreme forms, such as employer threats to an employee’s immigration status.”

The City Council’s Budget Committee will work in the recommendations from different members before presenting the final implementation and enforcement, and Main Street Alliance members will continue to push for implementation language that works for small business owners and the community.

Get the Facts on Payday Lending

Payday lenders aren’t creating jobs with their predatory lending practices, and they aren’t driving economic growth, they are standing in the way. Small business owners, their employees, and their customers would fare better with sound protections from payday lenders.SPP-Small_Biz_Fact_Sheet-FINAL_(1)_(1)_Page_1.jpgSPP-Small_Biz_Fact_Sheet-FINAL_(1)_(1)_Page_2.jpg

It's About to Get a Little Harder for Multinational Corporations to Dodge Their Taxes


The U.S. Department of Treasury released new rules today aimed at reducing tax avoidance. By requiring multinational companies to record profits and taxes paid on a country by country basis, the IRS will, for the first time, have the information necessary to crack down on those that manipulate international tax laws to gain a competitive advantage.

Country-by-country reporting (CBCR) of taxes paid in all jurisdictions will increase transparency, hold corporations accountable to meet their tax responsibility and lighten the load for small business owners and their customers.

Multinational corporations have notoriously gamed the system with elaborate schemes and tax strategies that leave small business owners and everyday taxpayers footing their bill. These highly profitable, international companies shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, known as “tax havens,” where they pay little to no corporate taxes.

Top economists estimate that tax avoidance will have cost the US government over $100 billion in lost tax revenue by the end of 2016, but the cost is not borne by the government alone. In addition to the blow dealt to communities in the resulting budget cuts and lost services, small business owners and ordinary taxpayers are called on to pick up the slack and pay a larger percentage.

For too long, small business owners on Main Street have faced an unfair playing field against multinational competitors. This rule is an important first step to curb sophisticated tax avoidance strategies and restore wealth to the communities and the small business owners that drive local economic growth.

“We know that large, multinational corporations use intricate webs of offshore tax shelters to game the system, and their practices are leaving small business owners to shoulder the load,” says Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of the Main Street Alliance. “These new rules allow the IRS to follow the money, break the webs, and tell tax dodgers the game is over."

It's Shark Week! Let's Rid Main Street of Payday Loan Sharks


New rules proposed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau don’t go far enough to keep payday loan sharks at bay. Click HERE to tell the CFPB to strengthen their rules and protect our customers! 

During Shark Week, June 27 - July 1, small business owners on Main Street are calling on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to close loopholes and strengthen their rules on payday lending–a predatory lending practice that saps their customers buying power.

On June 2, the CFPB released proposed rules to protect consumers from payday predators – but the document needs to be airtight to keep revenue in local economies, and it’s riddled with holes.

Since the CFPB started its rule-making process last March, the payday loan industry has extracted more than $10 billion from local communities, right out of the cash registers of the “Mom and Pop” shops and restaurants at the center of the local economy. Meanwhile, the industry has spent $13 million in political donations and in lobbying Congress against reasonable rules, silencing the voices of small business owners.

The member businesses of the Main Street Alliance are calling on the CFPB to stand up for their customers–the lifeblood of their businesses–and fix the leaks to keep families from drowning in the debt trap. We are asking our patrons, and members of the communities that keep local shops in business to submit comments to the CFPB about the extractive nature of payday lending and impact of payday lenders on the local economy. 

“Every dollar that unscrupulous lenders rip from the pockets of unsuspecting borrowers is a dollar that could be spent at local shops and restaurants, or on home renovations and repairs,” says Marzett Hawkins, the owner of Integrity Hawk, a general contracting company in Columbus, Ohio. For small businesses to succeed, we need to retain the wealth of our communities and keep our customers from doing business with those that seek to rob them of their resources.

“While some states have shut down payday lending altogether, in most states the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) acts as the first and last line of defense for borrowers,” says David Borris, the owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago. “That is why this proposed rule is so important in its potential to stem the tide of financial ruin for millions of local consumers throughout the country.”

“Offering a short-term solution to a financial problem, payday loan sharks sink their teeth into unsuspecting borrowers and trap them in a perpetual cycle of repayment. The promise of instant cash to meet the needs of families can quickly blossom into an entirely new source of financial angst,” says Andrew Lytle, the owner of Receptor Sound and Lighting in Lehigh Acres, Florida. “The CFPB must stand up to the lending industry and strengthen their proposed rules to rid Main Street of these apex predators.

Supreme Court Split on Immigration Deals Blow to Main Street Businesses


Supreme Courts 4-4 tie leaves millions in limbo 

The Supreme Court's decision to leave millions of families in limbo, and jeopardize the cohesion and diversity of the communities on which our businesses depend is more than disappointing. This leaves in place a single Texas federal judge’s decision to block the Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. (DACA)

DAPA would defer deportations of undocumented immigrants that have lived in the country since 2010 and have children who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, while DACA exempts children from deportation who entered the country before 2007. Though not precedential, the court’s failure to recognize the clearly legal and constitutional nature of these executive actions will starve Main Street of the diversity and inclusion on which it thrives.

In 2014, over 1,000 small business owners working with the Main Street Alliance signed an open letter to President Obama asking for executive action to stop deportations and keep thriving, local communities intact.

“We were heartened in 2015 when the President finally took action to protect many immigrant families. His executive orders on DACA and DAPA represented progress amidst a gridlocked Congress. Today's ruling will intensify pressure on already vulnerable hard working people in our communities,” says Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of the Main Street Alliance. “We need sound, responsible and fair immigration policy that creates a pathway to reunite families and promotes diverse and vibrant communities.”

“As a small business owner, I see the positive impact immigrants have on our economy and community every day,” says Jose Gonzalez, President of Tu Casa Real Estate in Salem and member of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon. “Many of my clients are immigrants to our country, and it pains me that the Supreme Court has failed to recognize that President Obama's Executive Order to provide relief to millions of families was well within the law. We know that this work is not over, and we'll continue to strive to keep families together and communities thriving.”


Main Street Leader Honored with White House Champions of Change Award


The White House presented their Champions of Change award to Main Street Alliance of Washington leader, Molly Moon Neitzel.

Molly owns Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream with seven locations throughout Seattle. She employs as many as 140 people during the summer months and has made paying fair wages a priority since writing her initial business plan. Better than just paying her employees well, she believes that all jobs should be living wage jobs and has been on the front lines in the campaigns to raise the wage. 

Her work with the Main Street Alliance began in 2008 with her commitment to passing the Affordable Care Act and bringing affordable health options to the shops and restaurants on Main Street. Upon the passage of the ACA, Molly found her voice and has since advocated for commonsense workplace standards like paid sick days, paid family leave, and living wages.

This is Molly’s second trip to D.C. this month, having participated in the White House United State of Women Summit last week.

Molly lives her values and sets an example for fellow small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that you can not only turn a profit despite paying fair wages, but you can turn a profit because of it.


Her message to business owners weary of rising wages is simple:

“Small business owners should be as aware of the benefits of raising the minimum wage as they are the challenges. Short-term increases in costs will balance out as customers begin to see a boost in their expendable incomes. Efforts to raise the minimum wage will ultimately strengthen your local economy and put more money in the hands of your customers and employees―your most valued assets,” says Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seattle and founding member of the Main Street Alliance of Washington


Main Street Alliance Members to Speak at White House United State of Women Summit


Tomorrow, the White House Council on Women and Girls, together with the Department of State, the Department of Labor, the Aspen Institute and Civic Nation, is convening the first United State of Women Summit, a large-scale effort to rally together advocates of gender equality to highlight what we’ve achieved, identify the challenges that remain, and chart the course for addressing them. Experts, advocates, and grassroots and business leaders who work in both domestic and international arenas will gather to highlight key issues affecting women and girls and best practices to carry on into the future.

Providing the business perspective on paid sick days and paid family leave, Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream with seven locations throughout Seattle, will share her experience having both policies on the books before and after Seattle passed a citywide paid sick days ordinance. Molly has 140 employees during the peak season and has rapidly grown her business while remaining committed to policies that put her employees and her community first.

”If lawmakers want to understand the impact of passing legislation like paid sick days and paid family leave they should look to the small business owners with policies already in place. Decision makers don’t often come to me for the answers, so I take my story and analysis to them,” says Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream in Seattle and founding member of the Main Street Alliance of Washington. “When small business owners tell our personal stories and advocate for ourselves, we can ensure that we are the ones speaking for us.”

Speaking on the gender-based pay gap from a small business point of view, ReShonda Young, owner of Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo, Iowa, will share her experience working for her father’s business and eventually going into business for herself. ReShonda has experienced first-hand the impacts of unequal pay and has seen the positive impact of correcting inequities and committing to pay fairness.

“While working for my father’s business, I saw the pay gap first hand and recognized the need to challenge the status quo. At my urging, my father leveled out his salary structure, and we saw a boost in morale, and the loyalty and commitment of his staff members grew stronger,” says ReShonda Young, owner of Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo, Iowa and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee Member. “When I went into business for myself, I vowed to get it right the first time–ensuring that my female employees felt every bit as valued as the men working next to them.”

ReShonda and Molly will be joined by Main Street Alliance of Vermont member Jennifer Kimmich, owner of Alchemist Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, Main Street Alliance of Oregon member Sabrina Parsons, owner of Palo Alto Software in Eugene, Oregon and Main Street Alliance of New Jersey member Samia Bahsoun, owner of Capwave Technologies in Asbury Park, New Jersey. 

CFPB's Proposed Rule Would Protect the Lifeblood of Small Businesses

The CFPB’s Proposed Rule Would Protect Consumers, the Lifeblood our Businesses

Payday and car title lenders extract wealth from our communities and put downward pressure on our local economies, hurting small businesses and our customer base

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed federal rules that would regulate the small-dollar loan industry, including predatory payday, payday installment, and car title lenders. While the CFPB lacks the authority to ban these loans, they have taken steps to set terms that are substantially better than what has been allowed to date.

Payday loans provide small loan amounts to individuals who are in a financial emergency and have few other options. These loans typically carry percentage rates (APR) of at least 300%, have no necessary underwriting, and short repayment terms. Because of their high fees, the typical borrower takes out eight loans a year and ends up spending about $520 in interest on an average loan of $375. That is $520 that could have been spent at local businesses, taxed by state governments, and used to fuel local economic growth. 

To maintain a healthy and vibrant business climate, it is necessary to establish a strong set of rules that ensure our customer's buying power is not exhausted by high-interest rates and that borrowers are not trapped in perpetual repayment cycles. The proposed rule is a critical first step in protecting against predatory lending, but it must be strengthened, loopholes need to be closed, and states must continue to cap interest rates as part of ongoing efforts to protect consumers from high-cost, predatory lending. 

"Payday and car title loans are predatory because they are designed to lock consumers into a cycle of increasing debt, siphoning off money that would otherwise be spent in the community. This hurts the shops and restaurants on Main Street that depend on a strong local customer base," says Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of the Main Street Alliance.

"We applaud the CFPB for issuing its proposed rule that reins in predatory lending, protects my customers and employees from the perpetual cycle of debt created by payday and car title lending, and returns the wealth of communities to the consumers that drive small business growth," says David Borris, owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Chicago, IL and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee member. 

"The damage caused by payday and car title loans extends well beyond the borrower. The ripple effects of these loans halt the economic potential of my community, making it difficult to strengthen and maintain the healthy economy that my business depends on,"says Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, OR and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee member. 

Minnesota members near the finish line in the campaign for Earned Sick and Safe Time in Minneapolis

Minneapolis leaders make final push for Earned Sick and Safe Time ahead of Friday’s Council vote

In the final weeks leading up to the vote on the Earned Sick and Safe Time Policy in Minneapolis, Minnesota business owners committed to creating a healthier, more equitable city have been tearing apart opposition claims threatening a mass exodus of small businesses from Minneapolis. They have been pushing back on attempts to poke holes in the ordinance language, such as exempting youth workers and employees of small businesses.

Main Street Alliance members didn’t just support the language; they helped create it. Small businesses owners, including Minnesota members Danny Schwartzman, owner of Common Roots Cafe and Abdirahman Kahin, owner of Afro Deli. The two served on the task force that held public hearings and worked for months to craft a common sense, practical policy that was a compromise between business owners and employees.

After the recommendations came out, small businesses from across Minneapolis, many of whom own restaurants, have met with Councilmembers, attended public hearings, and taken to social media in support of the policy. They have spoken at and hosted press conferences to support the ordinance language, which they believe will directly address Minneapolis’ racial disparities.

Tom DeGree and Dean Schlaak, owners of Wilde Café and Spirits, implemented sick days in advance of the ordinance and explained in an op-ed in MinnPost that the policy a win-win.  The Main Street Alliance advisory board members representing the smallest and largest businesses on the board, K.B. Brown of Wolfpack Promotionals and Lynn Hoffman of Eureka Recycling, co-authored an op-ed in the Star Tribune challenging the opposition narrative.

Cesia Baires, owner of Abi’s Café, and Scot Isqoox, owner of Capitol Café, each had letters to the editor printed to demonstrate their support for a policy that incorporates micro businesses like theirs.

Members from out of state even weighed in, giving accounts of their experiences running small businesses in cities and states with paid sick leave policies already on the books. Shaun Sieren, the owner of O'Neills Public House in Portland, joined a press call with Minnesota businesses about a report on the successful implementation of sick time ordinances across the country. Just a day before the City Council considers amendments, Tony Sandkamp, the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City and MSA New Jersey member, shared his experience in Jersey City, where a paid sick days policy passed first with an exemption for micro businesses and later expanded to all businesses in an op-ed in MinnPost.

During the final city council meeting before the vote, several members spoke in support of the Earned Sick and Safe Time measure. They shared their personal stories and showed Councilmembers the faces of Minneapolis’s small business community.

While the months of hard work and advocacy may soon be behind Minneapolis leaders, they will continue the conversation and carry the campaign into St. Paul and throughout the state of Minnesota. They will continue to work to ensure that all Minnesotans can recover from illness or care for a sick loved one without losing income and putting downward pressure on the local economy.

Check out some of the featured testimony:

Dan Swenson-Klatt, owner of Butter Bakery Café



Jason Rathe, owner of Field Outdoor Spaces



Julie Kearns, owner of Junket: Tossed and Found



Frank Brown, owner of Uptown Minuteman Press



Executive Committee member David Borris testifies in support of policies designed to #TakeOnWallSt

Main Street Alliance Executive Committee member David Borris, the owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago, joined U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, other elected officials, and community groups to testify at the launch of the Take on Wall Street campaign; aimed at closing Wall Street tax loopholes, making banks smaller and simpler, and curbing predatory lending.

As the 2016 campaign season has demonstrated, Americans across the political spectrum remain angry and frustrated with Wall Street and the Big Banks, which they see as both drivers and beneficiaries of a rigged system. Wall Street billionaires continue to rake in outrageous profits through business practices that hurt working families—families that are still struggling to recover from the crisis Wall Street greed and recklessness precipitated eight years ago. Poll after poll demonstrates that most Americans strongly favor financial reform to support a fair economy.

With ambitious policy goals, the campaign looks to establish a more equitable and inclusive economy and to convert the anger about Wall Street's growing political and economic dominance into concrete, bold and lasting legislative gains at the state, local, and federal levels.

"Predatory lenders and tax-avoiding corporations work in concert to extract wealth from my community, leaving my customers, the lifeblood of my business, trapped in a perpetual cycle of debt and absorbing a larger share of our mutual tax responsibility. We must usher in a set of rules that reins in predatory lending, holds corporations accountable to pay their fair share in taxes, and returns the wealth of communities to the hands of local consumers," said Borris.

Main Street Alliance recommends the following policy solutions that will begin to rebalance the economy: 

1.    Close the carried interest loophole which permits private equity and hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than most working Americans.

2.    Introduce a Wall Street speculation tax on sales of derivatives, stocks, bonds, and other financial products that would raise billions of dollars, bring banks closer to paying their fair of taxes, and stop some forms of destructive high-frequency trading outright.

3.    Make banks simpler, smaller and safer. End ‘too big to fail,’ and reinstitute the Glass-Stegall separation between commercial and investment banks.

4.    Close the CEO bonus loophole, which permits corporations to pay less in taxes the more they pay their executives.

5.    End Predatory Lending and expand access to fair safe financial services by supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and expanding access to fair and equitable banking.


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