During the month of October, Town Square Delaware is hosting a discussion on Jobs & The Economy, featuring written op-ed pieces and Q&As with Delaware’s business, labor and government leaders. As part of our series on jobs and the economy, TSD asked several local business leaders, entrepreneurs and investment experts for their thoughts. Today’s Q&A is with Rod Ward, President & CEO of Corporation Service Company.
TSD: Putting government policy aside, what can business leaders do right now to help get this economy moving again?
ROD WARD: We continue to move forward. With the economic uncertainty, some businesses may choose to stay on the sidelines, but “doing nothing” is not a successful strategy. Newton’s law of inertia states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion. We may need to make course corrections, but we are focused on executing our business plans.
TSD: What can government do to help spur investment, innovation and job creation?
ROD WARD: US businesses must be competitive with the rest of the world. Certain government policies are counterproductive and do not address the root of the issue. For example, it costs approximately twice as much to hire a software developer in the US versus offshore. In addition, local qualified candidates are hard to find while they are readily available in countries like India. The current government policy to limit the number of H-1B visas for guest workers and make the process difficult and expensive is not the solution. It does not protect American jobs. It drives jobs offshore and hurts our Universities. US policy should do more to address the lack of local qualified candidates which is partly attributable to our poor performing elementary and secondary school system.
TSD: How has your company managed to grow during this rough climate?
ROD WARD: Customers buy products and services that provide value to their business or personal lives. We focus our efforts on identifying and providing them. In challenging times, we watch our costs a lot more closely. We always expect above market growth rates and over the long-term superior results. It sounds simple, but it’s all in the execution.
TSD: What advice do you have for other would-be entrepreneurs who might be reluctant to start a new business today?
ROD WARD: Many great US businesses started during a recession including CNN, FedEx and Microsoft. I would spend more time worrying about proper execution of my business plan and meeting with potential customers and less about GDP growth rates.
TSD: Any other thoughts on how America and Delaware can get back on the front foot and become the land of opportunity again?
ROD WARD: I worry about the long term impact of our growing federal debt. While I agree with the economic rationale behind stimulus programs, I am concerned the federal government (both parties) lacks the political will to make fundamental fiscal changes when the economy improves. Locally, Governor Markell’s administration is tackling bigger issues like education reform along with Secretary Levin’s proactive approach at DEDO (Delaware Economic Development Office). Delaware will benefit from four more years of their leadership.