MSAMN Gubernatorial Roundtable with Small Business Owners

Main Street Alliance - Minnesota Hosts Gubernatorial Roundtable with Candidates and Small Business Owners

ST PAUL, MN —  Today, 20 Twin Cities small business owners met with gubernatorial candidate Erin Murphy to discuss her views on paid family leave, economic development, and other ideas for growing small businesses in Minnesota.

“Anything the state can do to help my employees will help me,” said Luke Breen, owner of Perennial Cycle.  “Whether its healthcare, paid family leave, or retirement -- our goal as small business owners is to serve our communities and create good jobs. We can’t do it alone.”

“When my employee was injured, we wanted to make sure she was able to recover and come back to work.  We already had sick and safe time, but we wanted to make sure she was taken care of. Being that she worked out of our Excelsior location, by law we wouldn’t have to pay her anything, but being that she is retired and on a fixed income having to work a part time job to make ends meet, it was any easy decision. We ended up paying $2100, and we are very glad we did it,”  said Sarah Piepenberg, owner of Vinaigrette. “If we had a system of paid family leave in Minnesota, it would help lower the cost and help level the playing field for small businesses who compete for employees with large corporations who can provide benefits.”

“Business owners are innovators, problem solvers, and we think outside the box.  We create the jobs for nearly half of Minnesota workers. Too much regulation is not the issue, the lack of access to paid family leave and healthcare is the problem. We can solve this problem along side policy makers, we just need a seat at the table,” said Anna Tsantir, owner of Two Bettys Green Cleaning.

According to the MSA-MN candidate questionnaire, gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson responded that he would not support the creation of a paid family leave system in Minnesota, while candidates Tim Walz and Erin Murphy supported it. The candidate questionnaire asked specific questions about what small business investments candidates would make, how candidates would increase access to credit for small businesses, and how they would effectively educate small business owners about existing and new programs that support them.  Currently, 

only a fraction of state and local economic development investment dollars are spent on supporting and strengthening small businesses.

“Everyone says they support small businesses, but no one is talking to us,” said Elana Schwartzman, owner of Fontlove Studio.

At the event, gubernatorial candidate Murphy expressed her support for small business owners, citing her understanding of challenges they face as her husband owns a small business. “Joe puts all of his time into painting houses and supporting his family and people who work for him,” said Murphy. “The fact that we haven’t as a state been centered on small business and giving people a place to go to get questions answered and find solutions is a problem.  Building more support for small businesses into [the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development] cannot be that difficult.”

This was the first of three roundtables for gubernatorial candidates sponsored by Main Street Alliance to ensure the needs of real small businesses are elevated in the campaign.  Future roundtables, scheduled in Duluth and St. Cloud, will focus on childcare, healthcare, and investments businesses want to see made in Minnesota’s infrastructure, schools, and safety net.

“Too often, the voice of small businesses are hijacked to serve the interests of big corporations and developers. When in fact Main Street small businesses often has more in common with the low- and middle-income people that make up our customer base. In fact, the median income for individuals self- employed at their own unincorporated firms is $26,111 in 2016,” said Corinne Horowitz, State Director of Main Street Alliance.  “This election season we want to make sure that candidates who will be listening to real voices and priorities of small businesses.”

For further information and the Main Street Alliance MN policy platform, see the 2018 MN Small Business Election Guide.