Minimum wage hike affects small businesses locally - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Minimum wage hike affects small businesses locally

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Washington's new minimum wage hike was expected to affect small businesses locally. Dozens have been laid off at the Davenport hotels downtown because of it. They aren't the only ones making changes but right now they're the biggest.    

"A lot of hotels and restaurants, I don't think were really prepared for this big change," said Matt Jensen, Davenport Hotels Corporate Director of Sales and Marketing.

Jensen says now that 2017 has kicked in, "It's something that you wish you had another way to do it but it's such a large expense to a business," said Jensen.

Changes have to happen because of the new minimum wage increase. Jensen says it's costing the Davenport $3 million more this year alone. "We haven't had really a lot of time to really understand it. We knew we needed to make some changes," said Jensen.

So what does this all mean? In Washington, minimum wage becomes $13.50 an hour by 2020. "While it is for a higher wage, unfortunately businesses can't just absorb that," said Jensen.

Jensen says about 50 of a thousand employees will be cut but that's not all:

-no more turndown at the hotels

-no more turndown of peanut brittle (you can buy this however at their store inside the hotel)

-cut a part of the hostess staff in the restaurants; there will be open seating most of the time

-small price increases in the restaurants

However, none of this he says, should change how guests come to the hotel. "Our goal is not to make the experience any different for our hotel guests if we can help it but it is looking at our business practices in a different way," said Jensen.

There are some positive changes to the Davenport hotels too:  

-updates to all 328 guest rooms at the  Davenport Tower including new beds, furniture, room amenities and 55 inch 4K TV sets. 

-upgrades to all the bathrooms at the Lusso with new flooring

-upgrades at the Historic Hotel to the analog AV systems in the Grand Pennington Ballroom to digital as well as Wi-Fi upgrades throughout  the hotel

On the other side, a lot of people are excited about the wage hike, including some business owners who hope that if people get paid more, they'll spend more.

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