In Op-Ed for Fortune ILSR Details the High Cost of Cashless Retail Trend

Originally published in Fortune
by Charlie Thaxton

Cashless retail is on the rise and has begun to concern some lawmakers. New Jersey recently banned the practice. Philadelphia has done the same. So far, the debates leading up to these laws have mostly centered on how cash-free establishments exclude unbanked citizens.

In a commentary piece for Fortune, ILSR researcher Charlie Thaxton details another major cost. Cashless retail — and credit cards in general — allow a handful of credit card monopolies and big banks to siphon billions of dollars from consumers and businesses through the swipe fees they charge merchants. These fees amounted to $79 billion last year.

Businesses, especially small ones, have little leverage to negotiate these fees, which average about 2 percent of a transaction. Refusing to accept Visa and Mastercard isn’t a viable option, either. READ MORE.

AIBA works for local business. Join us and reap the benefits.

Locally owned? We’re here for you. AIBA is the only nonprofit in town that represents local business through advocacy, marketing, connecting the community and more. We’re technically a chamber of commerce but we’re also the only chamber that markets our members directly to consumers through ibuyaustin.com, social media and newsletters. Your members tell the true story…

“AIBA is a fantastic community of like-minded local business owners, who receive support from the leadership of the AIBA for city government advocacy as well as promotion of their individual businesses and small- and locally-owned businesses in general in Austin.”

—Jody Reyes, WhichCraft Taproom

“I treasure my AIBA membership for the contacts I’ve made and the networking opportunities organized each month. This unique group is informed, forward thinking, and committed to a culture that addresses business issues such as growth and recognition as well as focusing on whole person health as a balancing element.”

—Aida Pollard, CG&S Design Build

“AIBA is about community. As an organization AIBA does a phenomenal job of supporting their members and facilitating connections. AIBA checks all the boxes you look for in a business organization (value in marketing, local advocacy, networking, etc.), but more importantly, AIBA is a community of businesses that care about their team mates and each other. AIBA members have fun and enjoy time around each other. AIBA is a microcosm of what we all know and love about Austin – weird, fun, innovative, savvy and uniquely Austin.”

—Nolan Gore, Top Choice Lawn Care

“Precision Camera has been a member of AIBA for over 10 years. We see the value of promoting local businesses, and AIBA is in the forefront of doing just that. Members have a wealth of experience to lean on when advice is needed by attending meetings and events and mixing things up with other local businesses. They say you get what you put in, and this is true of AIBA.”

—Gregg Burger, Precision Camera

Join before May 25 to be included in the next IndieAustin, our member magazine distributed throughout Austin. Get Certified AustinTRUE!

6th Annual Armadillo Awards a Huge Success

Thank you Austin! The 6th Annual Armadillo Awards were awesome. More than 200 local business owners gathered at the Historic Scottish Rite Theater for a grand party and awards show.

Congratulations to all the finalists – y’all really picked an amazing line up this year! We want to specifically congratulate our 2019 Armadillo Award recipients: Cosmic Coffee & Beer GardenBerdoll PecansP. Terry’s Burger StandMatt’s El RanchoLions Krav Magaand KOOP Radio. And a special congratulations to our 2019 Armadillo Hall of Fame inductee, the Assistance League of Austin.

See all of our amazing finalists and who won which award on our website. We all agree that our amazing local businesses are at the heart of Austin’s funky, free-spirited vibe and we love the opportunity to celebrate them at the Awards each year. Thank you to all who participated!

Armadillo Awards Party Coming Up

1,141 Nominees
29,190 Votes
35 Finalists
5 Armadillo Award Recipients
1 Amazing Indie Biz Party

Don’t miss it—April 25!—RSVP

The votes are in and party preparations are almost complete. Join us for a spectacular party celebrating your favorite local business. Party starts at 5:30. Show starts at 7.

And it’s the Indie Biz party of the year. Come meet the who’s who of local business and newcomers alike. We will announce and honor five finalists in each of seven categories as well as the winner of the Armadillo. 

Where else can you get…

• Fabulous local food from your favorite local restaurants. Hoover’s CookingWheatsville Food Co-opEldorado CafeAmy’s Ice Creams and Tiff’s Treats will be serving! And Hoover’s will be tending bar with their award-winning margaritas and more.

• Local Entertainment from Rick “Daddy” McNulty, who will be playing the best of local Austin music at the pre-awards and after party. The Rollergirls are in the house! TXRD (Texas Roller Derby) will rev up the party with a wild ride. World Famous Bob is our dynamic comedic MC!.

• Local stuff: Be sure to get your raffle tickets for the Dillo Fundraiser Raffle. Five fun collections showcase the best of local business products and services. So far this year we have Tickets to everything, Music Classes, Massages, Stetson Hats, A Boat Cruise, Locally Made Chocolate, Taco Socks, Gift Certificates Galore, T-Shirts, Underwriting on KOOP, Leather Brief Case, Liquor, Ice Cream, A Snowball Party Truck and so much more. 

Take a chance on collections of items donated by your favorite local businesses such as Keep Austin Weird, Out & About, A Family Affair-Pets Included Too and others. Your tickets will be ready for you at the awards when you donate to AIBA. The party is free so you’ll have a little extra for tickets. 

• Armadillo Balloon Hats. Yup, only at the Armadillo awards can you get your very own Blue Dillo Balloon Hat custom made by Bobby Cordell.

It’s all waiting for you at the Armadillo Awards Party. RSVP now.

TexHealth – Your Answer to Recruiting & Retaining Great Employees!

Here is what one TexHealth business owner said on a recent anonymous survey, “The service that TexHealth provides is vital to my small business. Not only did affordable health care allow my husband and I to realize our dreams of starting a family, but it helps my small business to thrive. I am able to offer benefits to my employees that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford and assists me in recruiting and maintaining amazing staff. It helps level the playing field for small business with big corporate businesses. Austin prides itself on supporting small business and I think TexHealth is the definition of small business support. I just really can’t say enough about what they mean to my family and my staff.”

Here’s another testimonial from the same survey. “I highly recommend all small business owners contact TexHealth to see if they are eligible for the insurance subsidy. Our staff really loves and appreciates it and it makes a big impact in their health and their sense of security. It’s quite an easy program to get involved with and worth every minute of a business owner’s time to make the connection. Offering affordable insurance is one of the ways that we support and retain our staff.”

According to the Affordable Care Act, small businesses do not have to offer health insurance if they employ 50 or fewer employees. What most small business owners have found though is that they have a higher turnover rate if they don’t offer benefits. Some industries even compete for employees based on the benefits they offer. The story that is most often heard is that a small business loses its employees to the competitor down the street because they offer health insurance. At the same time the policies that are offered are too expensive for many employees because the employer can only afford to pay 50% of the premium for each employee.

So what options does a small business have if they need to compete and retain talented employees but they cannot afford to pay more than 50% of the premium for a health insurance plan? The answer is TexHealth. Employees who cannot afford to pay their 50% of a health plan have TexHealth to help them with their share. You see, TexHealth is a “three-share” plan. In a three-share plan there are three premium payers, the employer, the employee and TexHealth. The employer pays their 50% share of the premium and the employee’s 50% share is divided between the employee and TexHealth. TexHealth will reimburse the employee one-third of the total premium up to $110 per month for their health insurance premium. The business has to have an office in Williamson, Travis, Hays, Burnet, Bastrop, or Milam County and the employee cannot earn more than $49,960 per year from the business. For more information – www.texhealthct.org or call 512-524-2618.

City of Austin Small Business Program Celebrates National Small Business Week

We’re celebrating National Small Business Week May 6 – 10 with a great slate of exciting options.

The City of Austin Small Business Program is excited to announce this year’s National Small Business Week! Join us for five days of free sessions covering funding, marketing, legal, and business planning. See the full line-up and register!

The week is kicked off with a special start:
Chat with a Dynamic Austin CEO
Join us for an intimate conversation with one of Austin’s dynamic entrepreneurs, ABC Home and Commercial Services owner and CEO, Bobby Jenkins.

Local KVUE news anchor and reporter, Jenni Lee, will open up discussions with Jenkins as he covers the journey of the original ABC Pest Control brand to its expansion as a full-service company with over 800 employees throughout the state.

Following the discussion, the 6th Annual City of Austin Business Awards will recognize entrepreneurial excellence in our community. REGISTER NOW.

AIBA is participating in National Small Business week as well. In partnership with the Small Business Program, we are presenting Amy’s EDU: The Scoop on Entrepreneurial Secrets on Wednesday, May 8. RSVP Now.