Making It Work is a live, interactive online series that brings together business leaders who are finding new ways to retain and generate revenue.

Payroll is often the biggest expense of many business operations. So what’s been the impact of five years of sustained increases to the state’s minimum wage on small businesses and nonprofits? What was $7.50 per hour in 2016 is now $12.15 statewide, and for Portland businesses, an $18 per hour hazard pay wage is in dispute. How do small businesses and nonprofits recruit and retain workers in such an environment? What regulatory changes would they like to see?

On the panel:

Suzanne A. Foley-Ferguson is the owner/operator of Beals Old Fashioned Ice Cream on Veranda Street in Portland, Maine. Suzie’s entrepreneurial spirit centers on the ordered philosophy “People, Planet, Profit”.  A Biology graduate of the University of Michigan, she has spent countless professional and volunteer hours working to conserve and protect Maine’s special places with Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough and Saco’s land conservation organizations. Before purchasing her ice cream business in 2010, Sue worked in many small businesses including non-profits, education, retail, public education and telecommunications jobs.  Until October of 2020, she ran two ice cream stores with as many as 24 employees.  As a two-term Town Councilor in Scarborough, Suzanne worked for six years developing growth management, housing, conservation and tax policies.  Suzanne is an avid reader of all genres, and enjoys politics, the beach, the forest, and spending time with her daughter, her two dogs, and husband of 32 years.

Peter Kowalski, recently retired executive director of John F. Murphy Homes, a provider of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Mr. Kowalski spent 36 years as the organization’s CEO and the past year working with his successor. He is a 1976 graduate of the University of Maine, Orono. Mr. Kowalski served as ANCOR president for years, a national organization representing private providers of service for people with intellectual disabilities. In addition he has served as president of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary club where he has been a member for 34 years. He is also past president of the Board of the Public Theater in Lewiston. Peter resides in Turner with his wife Gail.  They have two children and four grandchildren living in the area.

Discussion will be moderated by Business Projects Editor Carol Coultas.


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