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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Small Businesses Need Support, Says Silver Lake Resident

Jenna Pittaway |
October 7, 2013 | 8:10 p.m. PDT

Michelle Arias at one of her tables. (Jenna Pittaway / Neon Tommy)
Michelle Arias at one of her tables. (Jenna Pittaway / Neon Tommy)
Name: Michelle Arias

Neighborhood: Silver Lake

Job: Makes and sells inlaid mosaic tables at her store, Furthur, in Silver Lake.

Age: 45

What are the top issues facing Los Angeles, and why?

For me as a business owner, I have several concerns. One is that there used to be subsidies in place to help me hire people, and there were subsidies for payroll taxes. They’ve gotten rid of that, so it makes it very difficult. The taxes on small business like ourselves are very high, which kind of stagnates business growth. 

My business is my life, so all my concerns have to to do with that. The minimum wage being raised is not going to affect me positively. My employees won’t really be affected. They were already getting something comparable. But payroll taxes will increase, and I will have less money to go around. 

The other thing is I think the meters are out of control. Here, I don’t have a parking lot, so everybody has to park out on the street. They run until eight o’clock; they’re really expensive, and I think that hurts businesses. 

I feel helpless, frustrated... it makes me consider whether I'd be better off in a different state. 

What could Mayor Garcetti do to address your top priorities?

What people are willing to pay compared to the costs… it’s totally off, and they don’t match. It’s almost impossible to manufacture anything here in L.A. and offer it at any sort of decent price to compete with Target. Who’s going to buy my dining tables when they can go buy something cheap at IKEA?

If you want to have people producing merchandise in L.A., they have to get subsidies to be able to compete. Everyone gets subsidies except the small businesses. 

Did you vote in the May election?

No, I didn't. I'm not registered. I think it's hopeless.

Why do you choose to stay in L.A.? 

I’ve lived here most of my life. My husband was born in Pasadena. Maybe what keeps us from leaving is that we would have to leave our families. You just hang on and struggle and try to go on as long as you can. Oh, and the weather. 

Texas sounds really good. They make it easy for businesses; they have lots of good things going. But I would not want to be far away from my family. People say Austin is really cool – that it’s kind of like L.A. But it’s not L.A. 


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