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“I’m never gonna make millions. I just love this community.”

The Good Old Boys love pitting small business owners against workers. While we fight each other, they cozy up to out-of-state monopolies who are out to undercut us both.

Every small business owner wants to pay a living wage, but because the market’s rigged against them, they face a brutal choice. Some, like Blair in Pocahontas, pay $15 an hour–even when it means she has to forego her own pay. Others, like Brenda, can’t yet afford that rate, because she’s still working to get her business to profitability.

This is a rigged game, and we don’t have to play it.

Some state will be the first to re-write its tax code to favor local businesses and union shops over monopolies, so that we stop bleeding the companies that define our communities, so those companies can afford to pay higher wages, and so more of our wealth stays here. Whichever state does this first will also create a competitive advantage to draw family-owned businesses and cooperatives from across the country.

At almost every stop on our tour, we’re asking small business owners what it would take for them to be able to afford the wages their employees deserve. Some, like Brenda, say ending the sales and inventory taxes just for local businesses would help. Others, like Blair, say they’d need help with building expenses or accounting costs. Still others call for venture capital or low-interest loans from a new state bank.

What would your small business need to pay a living wage?

Once we decide to bend over backwards for our corner stores and family farms the way we already do for out-of-state landowners and foreign investors, we can do all this and more.

See some of our plans to address these issues here: