Greater Louisville, Inc. to oppose increase in minimum wage - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Greater Louisville, Inc. to oppose increase in minimum wage

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They say you can't fight city hall, but Greater Louisville Inc. is going to try by coming out in opposition to a proposed increase in the minimum wage.

Five members of Metro Council have co-sponsored an ordinance to phase in an increase of the wage to $10.10 an hour over three years. But Greater Louisville Inc says the move will likely phase out jobs.

When Ted Longacre bought Mesa Foods in 2008, it was on the verge of shutting its doors. Now, the producer of tortilla and taco shells employs more than 300 people.

Many of them start at a training wage of $8.00 an hour, but can quickly advance to a higher level.

"We need entry-level people. But I can't continue to pay them all more because it just makes me uncompetitive in the marketplace," said Longacre.

He claims raising the minimum wage in Louisville to $10.10 an hour would cost his business more than a million dollars a year, which he says he cannot pass on to his customers and stay competitive.

"They're going to tell me to get out. I mean it's not like I'm the only guy in the world that makes a tortilla," he said.

Greater Louisville Inc. says Mesa is not an isolated case and that raising the minimum wage would put Louisville businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

GLI says some companies will decide either to relocate outside the city or cut jobs.

"Sure some people are going to go some $7.25 to $10.10. But there's a bunch of people that are going to go from $7.25 to zero," said Kent Oyler, president and CEO of Greater Louisville, Inc.

But supporters of the ordinance say the gloom and doom scenarios simply have not occurred in the cities that have raised the wage this year.

"None of them, at this point, have suffered any significant job loss or any economic decline," said Flaco Aleman, executive director of Kentucky Jobs with Justice.

Longacre says all he knows is that - for his business - the numbers just don't add up. He says a forced wage hike would cause him to re-examine a planned $4-million expansion that would add 75 jobs.

"If the numbers don't make sense, why would I do it? That's what I'm faced with right now," he said.

If the wage increase passes, GLI predicts it will be challenged in court. The ordinance gets a first reading on Thursday.

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