Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Courting business becoming a political trend

Gov. John Hickenlooper
President Barack Obama is not the only chief-executive-of-state courting the business community big time. Our own Gov. John Hickenlooper met with ten CEOs of the state's largest employers last Friday in a meeting that so far has gone relatively unreported except by him.

The president met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday and asked its business membership to "get in the game" of hiring to reduce the nation's unemployment. 

Hickenlooper hasn't said he asked the Colorado CEOs to open their doors and hire more unemployed Colorado workers, but he did say Monday on Mike Rosen's radio show that the CEOs "had all kinds of specific suggestions in terms of changing the taxes we ... have on business, not to lower them, but just to make them more fair."

He also said that raising corporate taxes in the state now "would put up a neon sign saying we don't want any [new] businesses" coming to the state -- exactly the opposite of the "aggressively pro-business" message Hickenlooper, like Obama, wants to send right now.

Both chief executives want Corporate America to pitch in and contribute to economic recovery. We don't know whether Hickenlooper specifically asked the Colorado employers to do that because his two-and-a- half-hour session with the execs in his Capitol office was deemed a "private meeting," according to spokesman Eric Brown.

Brown also said the governor "regularly meets with business leaders and will continue to do so."

That's a good thing for both the governor and the state because Hickenlooper needs business on his side if he expects to accomplish anything during his term. That's a reality that escaped his predecessor Bill Ritter, whose governance was in marked contrast to Obama's and Hickenlooper's because it followed a national Democratic agenda rather than one crafted by him for Colorado.

Obama, a former community organizer, and Hickenlooper, an entrepreneur with a Democratic bent, have realized from the start of their political careers that government has to work with business for the common good of all citizens.

They realize, too, that neither liberals who like to shut out business interests from government, nor free-market conservatives who want government to stay out of business altogether, hold the proper respect for the joint venture that our society demands from both its public and private sectors.

Hickenlooper told reporters and economic development specialists after his Friday morning meeting with the CEOs that Ken Tuchman of Teletech Holdings Inc., one of those businessmen who attended, suggested to the group that the tightening economy over the past three years has made all their companies "better and stronger," in Hickenlooper's words.

Operating lean and mean will do that for a company, but as Obama suggested to the U.S. Chamber, the time for Colorado's big businesses to get off the sidelines and hire people is now. Let's hope our new governor pressed the same point with his C-level executive friends.

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