In a tour coordinated by the South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce on Monday, June 17th, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner visited with a number of small business owners in Old Town Littleton. The tour was similar to a number of business-focused tours he’s made across Colorado this year. Gardner told business owners he wanted to learn how they’re faring and asked what he can do in Congress to help them be more successful.
“We were pleased to help facilitate these meetings between our members and Senator Gardner,” said Andrew Graham, Chairman of the SMDC Board who walked with Gardner as he made his tour. “We appreciate that the senator made the time to have this dialogue.”
The feedback Gardner received, in short, was that business is good.
Lauren Thome Burgess, founder of Dirt Coffee, a coffee shop employing persons on the autism spectrum, told the senator one of her challenges is finding places to seat all her customers. She said she’s now planning to do some modifications to her shop to accommodate, and asked Gardner to advocate for legislation that supports employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.
“They’re great employees, but not everyone knows that,” she said. “Employers are sometimes afraid of what they don’t know.”
Mickey Kempf, owner of Bradford Autobody, told Gardner that hail has kept his shop busy. He urged Gardner to work across the political aisle.
“(Consider) them people, not Republications or Democrats,” Kempf advised.
Julie Nygard, owner of The Chocolate Therapist, told Gardner that mandated increases in the minimum wage cost her $15,000 per year.
“When the minimum wage goes up, everyone has to get a raise, not just my minimum wage employees,” she said.
Nygard urged Gardner to assist with making low-cost loans available to businesses like The Chocolate Therapist. She added that she’d like to open a new production facility, but obtaining an affordable loan was a challenge.
Sharon Wilson, Executive Director for the Town Hall Center, stressed the importance of arts funding. Senator Gardner agreed, saying that the arts “is an important part of our communities and economy."