Question: As a business owner or corporate executive, what do you see as the biggest challenges to running a business in Arizona today?
President and CEO, Caliente Construction Inc.
One of the biggest challenges facing Arizona businesses today is the lack of a qualified, skilled and educated work force. With the downturn in the economy, many people in the construction industry opted to change professions or move to states where construction was not as greatly impacted. At the same time, SB 1070 was passed and Arizona lost additional skilled laborers. As we recover, many Arizona businesses are unable to find qualified workers at every level. The lack of good candidates from degreed professionals to support personnel and skilled tradesmen has the potential to negatively impact the ability of businesses to expand. Without a concentrated effort and investment in education, this problem will only become more prevalent. It is important that business, community and educational leaders, as well as our state and local governments, work together to address this issue. The efforts should be focused on all levels of education, from elementary school through higher education, and include vocational training and a reasonable response to the immigration issues that impact our work force.
Arizona native Lorraine Bergman is the president of Caliente Construction Inc., one of Arizona’s 50 largest construction companies and Arizona’s fourth-largest woman-owned company. Bergman has a degree in business administration and finance from the University of Phoenix. Involved in many civic and charitable organizations, she is a two-time Athena Award nominee, was the Arizona Corporate Excellence Award recipient for Most Admired CEO in 2010 and is the incoming president of Arizona Builders Alliance.
President, Professional Employment Solutions, Inc.
Sector: Human Resources
Businesses today are strained by the loss of political public confidence, combined with business pressures to survive, increasing competition and the government’s compliance requirements. Many business owners like myself are asking the question, “What direction is our country headed?” and, more importantly, “How does a business owner have prosperity when our government is not in the position to lead?” Running a business takes the combination of investing in human capital and technology advancements with the assurance the government is working for business owners. The government has lost touch with businesses today. Government needs to restore confidence and forgo the unnecessary tax hikes. The government has shifted its focus to special interest factors, not business interest. The problem is not getting any better; the less responsive the government is, the less likely it is to restore both business and public interest. Another issue businesses face is the lack of business resources. The government has become a great divide on business equality — there is no longer equality for businesses.
Erin Graham is president and managing principal of Scottsdale-based Professional Employment Solutions, Inc., a full-service provider of business solutions to companies that range in size from small, privately held companies up to Fortune 100 organizations. PES places accounting/finance, information technology, administrative and healthcare professionals into temporary and direct hire positions. Prior to founding PES in 2003, Graham had earned performance awards with a $4-billion international staffing firm, where she became its youngest as well as first female regional vice president.
President, Jani-King Southwest
Sector: Commercial Cleaning, Franchising
Although there are many contributing factors, I find that one of the most significant challenges facing business today is the tenuous stability of the economy. This lack of certainty, even in the face of slow improvement, contributes to a lack of confidence, which presents significant issues in planning for growth.
As a franchisor in the commercial cleaning industry, my company has a unique perspective on the marketplace as our franchisees provide services to businesses and organizations in all market segments. In speaking with clients and other business leaders, one of the continuing challenges I hear many face remains the issue of raising capital to invest in future growth.
Most executives I speak with agree that too many of the challenges we face today come from Washington, D.C. Complicated and unclear policies that increase taxes on businesses and their customers place a heavy burden on those who are attempting to push the economy forward. In this climate, it is more important than ever to develop and strengthen relationships within our marketplace to achieve growth for everyone.
Julie Robinson is owner and president of Jani-King Southwest, Arizona Master Franchise of Jani-King International. Jani-King Southwest markets and supports unit franchisees, providing a full range of commercial cleaning services to more than 1,200 satisfied clients across the state of Arizona. Robinson holds a B.S. in telecommunications and marketing from Indiana University, and spent more than a decade in retail management and outside sales positions before joining Jani-King in 1995.