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Businesses feeling the pinch of Johnson County minimum wage hike

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Orange Leaf in North Liberty has closed its doors.

The owners stated they couldn't keep up with Johnson County's minimum wage, and they might not be the only ones that have to make that decision.

Businesses that have been there for years and even those who just opened are feeling the ping of the minimum wage hike. Some are just a little bit more optimistic than others.

"Making the move down here to North Liberty as a growing community," Leo Young, owner of Popcorn Shoppe, said. "I thought I'll give it a chance."

Young's business has overcome a lot, moving from Westdale Mall to North Liberty, in hopes for the best.

When the minimum wage passed, though, it changed his outlook.

"The second increase took place last year and I didn't see the growth and I actually saw a decline," Young said.

He said he's been hanging on by a thread ever since, but in the next year, he might have to change direction.

"If I don't see an increase in business, I probably will not continue," Young said. "I'll either sell it or close it."

Right across the street, at SugaPeach, they opened six months ago and the owners had their sights on surviving.

"Some of the struggles are you have to make a decision about what other things you may cut down or do you focus on raising prices and do you become competitive?" Chad Simmons, owner, said. "We really focus on cost savings and how we can, in essence, become more strategic and how we invest our money."

He said getting over the hump of the minimum wage hike can be done, just not alone. It will take collaboration from businesses willing to help each other.

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"There's an opportunity in essence for us all to thrive," Simmons said.

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