Small Business Owner and Manager Support for Retirement Security Accounts

During the summer of 2006 EOI conducted a series of 24 interviews with small business owners and  managers in diverse communities in Washington State to better understand their views on  Washington Voluntary Accounts (WVAs). Businesses ranged from a single owner operated teashop  to a 170+ employee research institute. They included a sheet metal manufacturer, a non-profit  bicycle shop, a biodiesel distributor, and an orthodontist.

Business Locations

  • 11 in Seattle
  • 3 in North Seattle suburbs of Lynnwood, Mukilteo, and Edmonds
  • 4 in Langley/Clinton – rural towns on Whidbey Island, 40 miles north of Seattle
  • 3 in La Conner and Mt. Vernon – 70 miles north of Seattle
  • 3 in Aberdeen – an economically depressed (former) timber community with a population of 17,000

Interview Findings  

  • 15 out of 17 businesses with 1-10 employees (88%) supported WVAs.   Of the two who were not in support, one believed that healthcare was a greater priority   and the other opposed any additional government involvement in the private lives of   workers.
  • 6 businesses with 11 – 50 employees were interviewed. 100% supported WVAs.
  • 1 business with over 50 employees was interviewed. It supported WVAs.

Recommendations by Small Businesses for Washington Voluntary Accounts
Washington Voluntary Accounts Program must:  

  • Provide diverse investment options
  • Provide some sort of support for employers and employees, such as a help-desk hotline or  website to answer questions and recommend best plans for employers and employees
  • Provide program promotion in the workplace so that the employer is not totally responsible  for promoting this service
  • Provide portability

Reservations of Small Business concerning Washington Voluntary Accounts  

  • How would the program be promoted among employees?
  • How would the program be administered?
  • How much responsibility would the employer bear?


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