INDIANAPOLIS – EmployIndy wants to see the city, its businesses and their workers thrive, and to do so, it’s taken steps to showcase employers who pay good wages.

It’s called the Good Wages Initiative. Businesses commit to giving full-time employees a wage of at least 18 dollars an hour and access to employer-sponsored health insurance benefits.

EmployIndy says wages matter, a lot.

“I think it’s incredibly important we’ve seen data and research going back years that Indianapolis is an incredibly attractive place for employers to be based and to open up new branches,” said Jayme Applegate, the director for the Good Wages Initiative. “But we’ve seen that a lot of the jobs that are coming in are not jobs that are offering wages that are going to help sustain workers, and so we really want to partner with employers and help them be a partner in this work to raise wages to make sure that employees are able to meet their basic needs and have opportunities.”

Applegate says research shows more money translates to better employee productivity and less turnover. Already, 26 employers in Marion County have signed on to the initiative.

Businesses commit to the program, then EmployIndy will help promote them, hold exclusive hiring fairs and more.

One in three Indy residents lack money for basic needs and it’s time jobs offer pay that’s sustainable. And according to EmployIndy, in the next 10 years, 51 percent of Marion County jobs would not create a pathway to middle class wages.

“There’s a ton of research showing the need that’s out there, and we also know that the minimum wage here in the state, which is the same as the federal min. wage of $7.25 is, is simply not sufficient for just about anybody to meet their needs, especially if you are a person who has dependents or family,” he added.

EmployIndy also will provide assistance to businesses who want to pay more but just are not there yet. They’ll help businesses work towards that good wages certification.

One of the first employers to sign on was LUNA Language Services. President Marina Waters shared that it’s such a tight labor market. Research shows 60 percent of people who left their jobs last year claimed it was because of low income. Health insurance was also a major factor.

That’s why this makes perfect sense for LUNA and its employees.

“Traditionally we’ve had fringe benefits that attract employees. You know, getting their birthday off or nap room or great coffee, but those days are over,” explained Waters, “People want a good quality of living, and they want to be sure that they’re healthy, and so we really need to show our current employees and our potential employees that we’re going to take care of those basic needs.”

EmployIndy and the Good Wages Initiative will do another round of research with community partners in the next couple of years to determine if wages need to stay where they are at or change.

Companies will have to retain their good wage certification.

To learn more about this new initiative, and to see a list of employers in Marion County who are already committed to pay more, click here.