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Would Raising the Minimum Wage Derail Small Businesses?

Small-business owners outside of cyberspace were less pessimistic and more concerned whether it would really do much to help low-income individuals.

Kim Drone, owner of Family Tree and Turf Care , a tree care and landscaping business in Marlboro, N.J., supports a minimum wage increase.

"This increase will put more money in the pockets of workers who will spend it in their local economies. That will strengthen consumer purchasing power -- exactly what small businesses need right now," Drone writes in an emailed response.

"Quite frankly, I don't think $9 an hour goes far enough. Here in New Jersey, the cost of living is just too high. If we want people to be self-sufficient, to be able to pay for food and shelter and have money in their pockets to spend in local businesses, $9 an hour still won't be enough," says Drone, who is part of the The Main Street Alliance , a national network of state and locally based small-business groups.

Lenny Verkhoglaz, founder of Executive Care , a home-care-services company in Hackensack, N.J., that started franchising recently, said his employees already are paid more than $9 an hour.

"In major metropolitan areas, $9 an hour wouldn't make a huge difference. I'm coming from the perspective of a New Jerseyian. The president's statement that $9 will get people off public assistance seems a bit far-fetched in my honest opinion," Verkhoglaz says.

(Here's the president on the minimum wage from Tuesday night's speech: "Tonight, let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families. It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank; rent or eviction; scraping by or finally getting ahead. For businesses across the country, it would mean customers with more money in their pockets. In fact, working folks shouldn't have to wait year after year for the minimum wage to go up while CEO pay has never been higher. So here's an idea that Gov. Romney and I actually agreed on last year: Let's tie the minimum wage to the cost of living, so that it finally becomes a wage you can live on.")

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

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