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By Patrick Clemons

 

The Jackson County chapter of Down Home NC on Jan. 29 certified Mountain Flora as a living wage employer, their first business in their Living Wage Program.

“I’ve been working since I was 14, so when this opportunity to run a business came up, it was extremely important to me that my employees are treated well and don’t struggle to survive,” said Kyle Coleman, owner and manager of Mountain Flora. “I know what it is like to live on substandard wages, so paying a living wage was something that I wanted to do to take care of the folks who work for me.”

The program is based on a similar initiative by Just Economics of Western North Carolina, Down Home  member Carrie McBane said.

“They are the largest living wage certification program in the United States, and so we model our campaign after that process,” she said. “Once the business is interested in applying that application goes back to Just Economics. They verify the relevant background information, and then they let us know whether or not they approve.”

A living wage is defined as only being able to cover basics, such as housing, food and.There is no room for extras like cell phone and cable bills, McBane said.

A living wage, based off the federal poverty line in Jackson County, is $12.60 an hour, she said. 

“That’s without healthcare benefits offered, and if the business does offer health care benefits it’s close to $11.10 an hour,” McBane said.

Down Home NC plans on certifying at least two more business in coming weeks. The Living Wage Certification program is open to any business that wishes to participate. 

Some perks of being certified include being presented with a certificate and stickers to display in the storefront.

More information about the certification is available at www.downhomenc.org/livingwages, or by contacting McBane at carrie@downhomenc.org.