TOM HUDSON: It’s the biggest contest yet for Republicans vying for the White
House. Florida’s Republican primary today is winner take all, getting all
the delegates at stake. While the economy is the top issue everywhere
across the nation, today’s voting comes in a state with a higher
unemployment rate than the nation and one of the most damaged housing
markets. Maurice Ferre is the CEO of medical technology firm Mako Surgical
based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He joins us here in Miami. Nice to see
you here sir.
DR. MAURICE FERRE, CEO, MAKO SURGICAL: Thank you for inviting us.
HUDSON: What does your business tell you about the Florida economy
and about the nation’s economy here?
FERRE: It’s all about sustainable jobs. In this economy, we have to
become business friendly. We have to create the opportunities to allow us
to be number one and let us do our jobs, the entrepreneurs.
HUDSON: Are you hearing those opportunities here in Florida, ahead
of the primary?
FERRE: You know, it’s tough because this is a very tough environment.
You know, we’re trying to create jobs. We committed to creating 100 new
jobs here in the state of Florida, but we deal with a lot of people that
are high educated and we have to deal with issues like H-1V visas and
HUDSON: I want to ask you about hiring real quick before we get into
some of the regulations you see stymieing your growth. Advanced
manufacturing is what you do with really high-end medical products. Are
you finding the skilled labor available in this market with almost a 10
percent unemployment rate in Florida?
FERRE: As a medical biocompany, being one of the fastest growing
companies here in North America, it’s tough finding the right people to get
these jobs. So we’re working hard at this.
HUDSON: What would immigration H-1V visa specific targeted visas do
to your hiring prospects?
FERRE: We spent so much time and energy looking for the talent and a
lot of the talent we need are Ph.D.-type talents in terms of
engineering. That’s what we need across this nation. And it’s very
difficult to find those types of people. We need to open up immigration.
HUDSON: How much more open would you like it, for instance?
FERRE: Well, you know, I think it’s going to be driven in terms of
technology innovation for us to get out of these cycles. We have to
reinvent ourselves and reinventing ourselves requires innovations and it
comes out of these universities and that’s what we need to focus on.
HUDSON: You also operate in health care, one of the most highly
regulated and highly politically charged sectors, given this election, no
doubt. We hear from CEOs across industries about regulations, hurting
growth, holding back growth. Do you agree?
FERRE: I do. We are a $350 billion industry and you look at — we get
two million jobs in the device industry here in the United States and we
have to become more friendly to industry. You know, we have an excise tax
that’s coming in 2013. I hear a lot of my peers talking about moving jobs
to other nations, other countries, because of dealing with this excise tax.
We have FDA regulations that are taking four years longer to get things
through the FDA.
HUDSON: Dr. Ferre, you come from a political family. Your dad was
the mayor of Miami, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate. What about the
quality of political discussion around the income disparity, the 1 percent
versus 99 percent. Is that harmful?
FERRE: I hear about that and I heard somebody tell me, of the 1
percent, 80 percent used to be part of the 99 percent. That’s free
enterprise. We have to create those environments so that people can grow
and people can live prosperously.
HUDSON: Dr. Ferre, we appreciate the insights. Thanks for sharing
them with us. Maurice Ferre, he’s the CEO of Mako Surgical.