On Tuesday, February 7, I accompanied Mayor Michael B. Coleman and a group of Columbus business leaders to a meeting at the White House with Obama Administration Officials led by Ari Matusiak, Executive Director, White House Business Council. The purpose of the meeting was two-fold: 1.) to get feedback on what the Administration can do to support job creation and growth of the economy; and 2.) to ensure local Columbus local business leaders are aware of the Administration programs and resources that can help them grow and succeed. I was joined by a diverse group of Columbus companies from larger organizations, such as Momentive Speciality Chemicals, The Ohio State University and Columbia Gas/Ni-Source to rapidly growing high-tech companies such Oxford Consulting Group and CallCopy Inc. Likewise, we were joined by well-respected educators, advocates and thought leaders from the Columbus College of Art & Design, the Ohio Hospital Association, and SkillsUSA Ohio. From the beginning of the program in became clear that Administration officials viewed the Columbus business environment under the leadership of our Mayor as a model of success in these challenging times.
After a short economic briefing from the Chief Economist from the Department of Commerce, we interacted with a panel of Administration officials on job creation and business expansion. Rosie Rios, The Treasurer of the United States, spoke briefly regarding the Treasury Department’s expanded role in housing finance, corporate tax reform, and small business business lending initiatives as part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. After many of the businesses leaders identified finding qualified workers as a significant challenge in growing their businesses, Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, advised us to utilize the Department of Labor’s One-Stop Career facilities to advance their talent acquisition and training objectives. John Porcari, Deputy Secretary of Transportation, outlined the substantial federal infrastructure investments in the Columbus region.
The highlight of the day was a presentation by Capt. Brad Cooper, the Executive Director of Joining Forces, a White Initiative to assist Veterans as they transition out of the services and pursue civilian careers, higher education, or start their own businesses. Cooper made a strong case to the businesses to take advantage of the resources and tax credits enacted under the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (VOW act). I was personally inspired to explore these resources in E.E. Ward’s search for additional talent to grow our business and reach our objectives..
The day concluded with an open discussion of the issues that the Columbus businesses believed inhibited business growth and job creation. The thoughtful discussion resolved around taxes, immigration policy,employment, and access to capital and business resources. I shared the need for more resources to be devoted to mature, second stage and growing businesses, similar to the vast resources devoted to business start-ups. Administration officials seemed to be particularly interested how the current immigration policy negatively impacts business growth, diversity, and talent acquisition in a Midwestern city such as Columbus.
My visit was truly an invaluable experience to learn more about the Administration’s investments and resources designed to foster job creation and business growth. Furthermore, I benefited from the thoughtful and insightful comments by the other Columbus business leaders who participated in the meeting. I look forward to sharing this experience with others and participating in future discussions about job creation and business growth.
Co-Owner, E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co, LLC