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Missouri FORUM | 08/02/2018
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Movie Theater Owner Spotlights Benefits of Raising Minimum Wage

By Bob Goodrich

Movie theaters have been our family business since my father opened a single-screen Michigan theater in 1930 with a showing of All Quiet on the Western Front. I bought my father's theater in 1967, and expanded Goodrich Quality Theaters to five states, including Capital 8 in Jefferson City and Forum 8 in Columbia. We couldn't have done it without great employees and generations of moviegoers coming through our doors.

A lot has changed and improved in the 50 years since Ive owned the business  from the non-narrative movies we now show to the sound, seats and picture size and quality. One thing that hasnt changed enough, though, is the Missouri minimum wage.

Missouris minimum wage of $7.85 an hour is too low for even full-time workers to afford their basics: food, rent and more. It hurts businesses and the economy when working people don't have enough income to keep a roof overhead, put food on the table, and enjoy needed recreation like a movie every once in a while.

That's why I support the effort to gradually increase Missouri's minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2023 through a ballot initiative. I'm in welcome company with more than 300 business owners in Jefferson City, Columbia and across the state who have already endorsed the Missouri Business for a Fair Minimum Wage statement supporting raising the minimum to $12 by 2023 as good for business.

Business people across Missouri understand that workers are also customers, and nothing sustains business like consumer spending.

Low-wage workers are the ones most likely to turn around and spend their increased pay. Businesses benefit when workers have more to spend on basics like groceries, rent, repairs, transportation and clothes for growing kids  and the occasional meal out or ticket to the movies.

Our own starting pay will go up if Missouri's minimum wage is increased to $8.60 in 2019 and then by 85 cents a year until it reaches $12 in 2023, as the ballot initiative calls for. Cashiers and cleaners start a little above the current minimum wage and receive performance and pay reviews every 120 days, which ensures their pay doesn't stagnate. We'll want to keep our starting pay above the minimum wage as it rises. All managerial-level employees make well above the minimum wage and the industry average now, and receive full health benefits paid entirely by the company.

The minimum wage won't increase to $12 all at once. It's being phased in over five years. Businesses will be able to plan ahead to adjust their wages while benefitting from increased consumer spending.

The increased revenues from rising consumer spending will go a long way in offsetting the higher hourly minimum wage. Businesses will also see other offsets, such as reduced employee turnover and increased employee morale and productivity.

Raising the hourly minimum to a reasonable base wage of $12 by 2023 will be good for business and good for communities across Missouri.

Raising the minimum wage will strengthen Missouri's economy. Now that's something we can all applaud.

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