Local business executives gave an earful this morning to officials in the Obama Administration about what they perceive as Washington's stifling regulatory environment.
Nearly two dozen local business leaders attended the session at which a number of participants aired their frustrations to the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. The panel is set to make its first recommendations this afternoon on improving the economy during President Obama's visit to Durham.
The President and his advisors convened the jobs council in part to replace the public image of Obama as a capitalist-bashing crusader with a voter-friendly portrait of national leader concerned about jobs and pocketbook issues.
The meeting at DuPont's research and development facility in Research Triangle park focused on challenges facing the state's manufacturing sector. DuPont employs nearly 900 people in the state, 230 of them in RTP, the company's national headquarters for its Electronics and Communications division.
Many of the frustrations shared this morning related to the region's biopharmaceutical firms' relationship with the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates and approves medicine for commercial markets.
"We often get new questions from the FDA after three years of interaction," said Ronald Hill, vice-president at Pioneer Surgical, a Michigan company with a marketing division in Raleigh. "It's a very cumbersome process."
Perry Genova, CEO of Oncoscope in Durham, said in his experience, the feds treat applicants as "guilty until we prove ourselves innocent."
Among those heading the panel discussion were DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman, Intel CEO Paul Otellini, University of California economist Laura Tyson and Karen Mills, head of the Small Business Administration.
Jobs council panels have held town-hall-type meetings with business leaders in Ohio and Minnesota. Mills later said that issues that typically come up are access to capital and opportunities to export products.
The manufacturing confab was one of five such panel discussions held throughout the Triangle to highlight Obama's high-profile visit to the area. Other jobs council panels discussed issues pertaining to energy innovation, workforce training, entrepreneurship and biotechnology.