Senator Jeff Merkley & Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish join Main Street Alliance & Little Boxes Businesses to promote shopping on Main Street this holiday season
Portland, OR - Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) and Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish walked Main Streets in St Johns and NW Portland earlier today talking to small business owners participating in this year’s Little Boxes PDX campaign. Little Boxes PDX was dreamt up just before Thanksgiving in 2011 by jewelry designer and small business owner, Betsy Cross, of betsy & iya. Working with her husband and business partner, Will Cervarich, the vision became a reality that first year with 90 shops participating and thousands of participating shoppers across Portland. Since then, Little Boxes PDX has grown every year.
This year, more than 200 small business owners from all around Portland joined the campaign, offering discounts, donating prizes and helping to support each other throughout the holidays. The spirit of community drives Little Boxes each year, and shoppers who patron their local Main Street businesses experience the things that make small, locally-owned businesses so great—personal customer attention and unique goods and services.Devon, co-owner of hammer + vine; Senator Jeff Merkley; Commissioner Nick Fish
Leaders with The Main Street Alliance of Oregon were pleased to work with Commissioner Fish and Senator Merkley to promote shopping on Main Street this holiday season. Commissioner Fish visited businesses in St Johns. We then met up with Senator Merkley in Goose Hallow at Hammer + Vine, and on to the Alphabet District to Clogs N More, Manor Fine Wares and ended up at Child’s Play Toys.
It’s so important to get the word out about supporting Main Streets across America, that way our customer’s hard earned money can stay where it belongs—in the local community. We’re certainly not alone in promoting shopping at small businesses during the holidays, though.Pat, owner Child's Play Toys; Senator Jeff Merkley; Betsy Cross, co-owner of betsy & iya and co-founder of Little Boxes PDX
Along with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, comes Small Business Saturday, a marketing campaign created by American Express. On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. After all, small businesses are the engines of job growth, and shopping small keeps money circulating in the local economy. Every Saturday should be Small Business Saturday.
But, for small business owners, American Express’ marketing campaign is a slap in the face, allowing the Wall Street titan to hitch its PR wagon to the iconic Main Street brand while generating enormous profits on swipe fees from billions in sales, paid for by small businesses and our customers. American Express charges merchants the highest swipe fees – around 3.5% of each transaction – of any credit card company. In addition to charging hefty swipe fees, AmEx typically takes twice as long to settle transactions with merchants as Visa and MasterCard, which can hurt the cash flow of a small business. The dirty secret of credit card rewards programs is that they are paid for by the small business who swipes your card.
After all is said and done, though, there are some great ways to support your local small businesses this holiday. Consumers who want to Shop Main Street this holiday season can:
- Shop in a locally owned business, that way your hard-earned money stays in your community and supports businesses who support their employees and their communities.
- Pay in cash or use a debit card.
This holiday season, remember, shop in small Main Street businesses—support the businesses who support you!
Historic practices and policies perpetuate poverty pay in jobs typically worked by women and people of color
Seattle, WA - During this season of abundance, many full-time workers don’t earn enough for a single person to survive, much less to support a family. The staggeringly low percentage of women and people of color earning a living wage in the US is especially distressing.
“Equity in the Balance,” a new report by The Alliance for a Just Society, was released today by The Main Street Alliance. The report details just how few women and people of color in the US make a living wage – enough income to cover basic expenses of a full time worker and their family, with some money left over for savings.
Only 61% of all full-time workers in the US earn a wage that will allow them to make ends meet. Even more troubling, only 57% of women, and just 52% of the latino community make this living wage.
“It is a fundamental American value, if you work full-time you should be able to support yourself and your family,” said Stephen Michael, Campaigns Manager of The Main Street Alliance. “Small business owners agree that if you’re working full-time, you shouldn't be living in poverty. We know that when our employees are earning more, they have more to spend in our local businesses, which boosts our entire economy."
For more than 200 years, policies and practices in the U.S. have perpetuated low wages in jobs and industries primarily worked by women and people of color. Women of color particularly struggle, making difficult choices to provide for their children.
“A system that unjustly and persistently leaves people of color overrepresented in low wage work is tantamount to economic racism,” said Jill Reese, associate director for Alliance for a Just Society. “And, policies that keep women over-represented among low-wage workers is gender discrimination.”
It’s time that lawmakers change history, raise the minimum wage and ensure that all have access to paid sick days to assure that all full time work pays enough for a family to do more than barely survive – that workers earn an actual living wage that helps families thrive.
- Invest in state and federal safety net programs, such as childcare assistance. Until there are enough living wage jobs to go around for all household types, families will continue to face tough choices.
- Strengthen and enforce equal opportunity statutes, including affirmative action: Equal opportunity statutes were designed to help ensure that women and people of color are not discriminated against. However, enforcement of these policies isn’t consistent, leaving the statutes weak and ineffective.
- Guarantee paid leave that includes maternity leave and parental leave to care for sick children. Many workers risk losing their jobs or income, if they are too sick to come to work or if they need to care for a sick child
- Expand and Strengthen Social Security: Because women and people of color earn less, they are less able to save for retirement and forced to depend solely on Social Security.
“Equity in the Balance” is the second in the 2014 Job Gap Economic Prosperity Series. Alliance for a Just Society has produced a Job Gap Study on jobs and wages since 1999.
Data from the Alliance’s Job Gap Study has figured prominently in debates on minimum wage, paid sick days, payday lending, Medicaid and other family economic issues.
Portland, OR — Last night, October 22, hundreds of small business owners and small business supporters braved the rain storms and came together at HATCH to celebrate small business and connect Main Street business owners with local lenders.
Money on a Mission, sponsored by Beneficial State Bank and HATCH, brought together the top local small business lenders: Albina Community Bank, Albina Opportunities Corporation, Beneficial State Bank, Community Sourced Capital, Craft3, HATCH, Kiva Zip, Mercy Corps Northwest, Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon, Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs, & Portland Development Commission.
There’s no question that there is a large gap in access to capital for Main Street businesses, especially for women business owners and business owners of color. More and more, tradition forms of lending aren’t working for small businesses across Oregon and nationally. By bringing together local alternative lenders and expert panels on business development and growth, all in one room, Main Street business owners were able to think outside the box and find creative ways to fill their capital access needs.
The event kicked off with welcoming remarks (and trademark song) from Kat Taylor, co-founder and CEO of Beneficial State Bank and Amy Pearl, Founder of HATCH. Then there was plenty of time for business owners in the room to network with each other and all 11 of the local lenders on site. There were expert panels in small breakouts for budding entrepreneurs on accessing early stage funds and for established businesses working to grow to the next level.
While it was inspiring to have all of these lenders presenting their alternative forms of capital, we know that there’s still a gap for those businesses who need smaller amounts. That’s why The Main Street Alliance of Oregon and Hatch Innovation have come together to work on creating streamlined ways for Oregonians to directly invest in Oregon-owned and operated businesses. To find out more about what’s coming down the pipe line, contact oregon [at] mainstreetalliance.org.
Last week, Main Street Alliance, in partnership with former governor Madeleine Kunin, convened a Business Task Force on Earned Leave in Burlington, Vermont. The event was held at locally owned Hotel Vermont over two days and included a visit from the United States Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez and a conversation with Washington business owner Molly Moon Neitzel, owner of Molly Moon’s Ice Cream Shops in Seattle.
The purpose of the two day roundtable was to bring together a broad cross section of the Vermont business community - including representatives from various business chambers, associations, and business owners to discuss last year’s legislative proposal on Earned Sick Days and to begin to chart a course forward with an eye toward the 2015 legislative session. Participation was well balanced between those who have a record of supporting efforts to establish a minimum standard of paid time off and those who have historically opposed such proposals.
The two-dozen participants heard from several experts in fields related to the debate on the first day and spent the following morning engaged in a facilitated dialogue surfacing both concerns and common ground. Secretary Perez, who stopped in to speak to the group for an hour, expressed his admiration for such a collegial approach to the issue, encouraged the continuation of productive dialogue, and expressed his hope that Vermont will be able to pass a bill next year.
Perhaps the most impactful moment was when Seattle business owner, Molly Moon Neitzel, teleconferenced in to share her experience as a business owner in a city that has already passed legislation similar to that under consideration in Vermont. Molly acknowledged her own initial skepticism of a universal standard of earned sick time in Seattle and admitted that, prior to the debate in her city, she had not offered sick time to her employees who tend to be between the ages of 18 and 24 and primarily part time. She was worried that her staff would use all their time and couldabuse the privilege – that it would be just another costly mandate in a city already known for its progressive workplace policies. In reality, however, she said that it’s had a negligible cost and has built enormous goodwill. She said, “It’s a liability on the books, but the cost just hasn’t materialized. I spent way more last year changing my brand of strawberries than paying for paid sick time.”
Main Street Alliance will continue to facilitate dialogue within the Vermont business community looking forward to the introduction of a new bill in 2015 to establish a minimum standard of earned paid leave in Vermont.
Main Street business owners across the country are proud to stand with our partners in Oakland at EBASE to support Measure FF & Lift Up Oakland — raising the minimum wage and increasing access to paid sick days.
Rising income inequality is the moral and economic challenge of our time. Main Street business owners understand that small business success is directly tied to the economic vitality of the communities in which they do business. The increasing wealth gap not only harms low-income people; it also creates a death spiral of falling demand that hurts small businesses.
We know that consumer demand drives the Main Street economy. Our employees are our neighbor’s customers and when workers have more money, businesses have more customers. With more customers businesses can hire more workers, which in turn generates more customers. In this virtuous cycle, increasing economic security for workers provides a boost to the bottom line of local small businesses.
Every job should be an economy-boosting job, and means family-wage jobs and access to basic workplace standards like paid sick days. We all get sick, but not all of us have the time to recover—and it affects us all. By allowing our employees to earn paid sick days, small business owners increase productivity and save money in the long run. Employees who come to work sick are less productive and recover more slowly. They’re also likely to spread illness to co-workers, which reduces productivity and increases absenteeism. Earned sick days also help to retain good employees and keep turnover costs low.
At The Main Street Alliance, we’re excited that there’s growing support for common sense workplace policies and raising the minimum wage. Together, we can help redefine “good business practices” and lift up the real voices of small business owners.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, July 31st, 2014
Main Street Alliance supports Fair Wage and Safe Work Place Executive Order
President's authorization "upholds Main Street values of fair play, responsibility and respect"
“Main Street Alliance supports President Barack Obama’s Fair Wage and Safe Work Place Executive Order, which upholds the Main Street values of fair play, responsibility, and respect. This executive order ensures that all firms doing business with the federal government play by the same set of rules. Holding corporations with labor violations accountable rewards responsible businesses who treat their employees with dignity and respect. Every job should be an economy-boosting job, and the President is right to ensure that firms doing business with the federal government are held to a high standard of responsibility.”
The Main Street Alliance is a network of state and locally based small business coalitions. The Main Street Alliance and its state affiliates create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies.
On July 28, 2014 the Mayor and City Councilors of Eugene, Oregon voted 5 to 3 to implement a paid sick days policy that will enable people who work in the city to earn sick time while they work, making Eugene the second city in Oregon, and the 9th U.S. city, to adopt such a policy.
Small business owners with the Main Street Alliance of Oregon cheered the ordinance passage as an important step to create more economy-boosting jobs.
“Eugene’s paid sick days policy will benefit everyone. It will boost the local economy and help small businesses succeed,” said Catherine Reinhart, co-owner of Sweet Life Patisserie. “It’s simple economics: we sell more sweets when working families have more money in their pockets to take their kids out for a treat. Now, Eugeneans won’t have to choose between taking care of their families and missing a day of work.”
“This is a big forward step for Eugene’s economy that will help employees better manage their work and personal responsibilities simultaneously,” said Rob Cohen, co-owner of Falling Sky Brewery. “Our employees are the heart of our business. We’re proud to provide them with paid sick leave, so they can pay their bills even when they get sick. Now all employees will have that protection too!”
“When you do your best by your employees, they stick around and give you their best, so it really works for everyone,” noted Gavin McComas, owner of Sundance Natural Foods. “It feels great to be part of a solution that will directly benefit so many people and that positions Eugene as a leader in our country when it comes to a triple-bottom line economy. It’s a great day for the city of Eugene, and for Eugene business owners and their employees!”
The Main Street Alliance of Oregon business owners applaud the Eugene City Council for taking action on this important issue. Despite the backdoor political dealings of the Lane County Commission — whom last week attempted to stall or block the City Council from taking action by passing three rushed ordinances — the Council and Mayor supported the 25,000 workers in the city who need this basic protection.
Bipartisan legislation designed to renew emergency unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed passed the Senate in April, but was called 'unworkable' by Speaker Boehner and has not been heard from since in the House.
Over 3 million unemployed individuals have lost benefits.
Beginning June 7th, advocates for the unemployed and sympathetic members of Congress have gathered for 'Witness Wednesdays,' to bring attention to inaction on this issue and to share stories from those who are suffering personal economic problems because of evaporating family incomes.
On Wednesday, June 23rd, Main Street Alliance D.C. lobbyist Bill Daley represented the Alliance for a Just Society and the Main Street Alliance, speaking out on the importance of unemployment insurance to the economy and to small businesses; he shared a story from a New Jersey man named Dermott.
Small-business owners slam AmEx over Excessive Fees, Tax Dodging
A fact sheet on American Express’s abusive behavior toward small businesses and on the company’s tax dodging is available here
The Main Street Alliance, a national network of small-business owners, is denouncing the hypocrisy of American Express for championing small-business shopping on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while the credit card giant’s financial and tax practices hurt Main Street businesses every day.
Now in its fourth year, “Small Business Saturday” is the marketing invention of American Express, encouraging consumers to “Shop Small” the Saturday after Thanksgiving by using their American Express cards at participating businesses. American Express launched the marketing initiative just a month after the U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company in 2010.
Small-business owners criticize the company for imposing the credit card industry’s highest “swipe fees” at 3.5 percent, and for its record of tax dodging that includes stashing $8.5 billion in profits offshore, which are not currently subject to U.S. taxes.
The Main Street Alliance encourages consumers to support small businesses this holiday season by shopping locally and paying for their purchases with cash.
But, American Express? Leave home without it.
As part of National Small Business Week (June 17-21), small business owners from across the Main Street Alliance network are speaking out on the top issues facing the nation.
Each day during Small Business Week, we're releasing a new "Straight Talk on Main Street" issue fact sheet providing unique small business perspective and analysis, on the following schedule:
- Monday - IMMIGRATION REFORM: Immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship strengthens consumer demand, boosts economy
- Tuesday - TAX FAIRNESS: Ending offshore tax dodging will level playing field for small business
- Wednesday - HEALTH CARE: Small business owners preparing for full implementation of health care reform
- Thursday - ECONOMY-BOOSTING JOBS: Small business engagement critical to growing momentum on Paid Sick Days
- Friday - MONEY IN POLITICS: Small businesses seek greater disclosure of secret political spending by corporations and trade associations