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The Biz Roundup January 10

Obama decides that HE’S the first MBA president, or at least, the first to act like one.

Washington is about to get its first official waste watchdog. President-elect Barack Obama recently tapped Nancy Killefer to fill the newly created role of chief performance officer. Killefer, a senior director at management-consulting firm McKinsey & Co., will be in charge of combing through the federal budget to weed out unnecessary programs and streamline government efficiency.

The position, which Obama has described as one of the most important in his Administration, is part of a new initiative to control federal spending, reform massive government entitlement programs and curb the pork-barrel spending that has contributed to the country’s budget-deficit crisis.

(“Chief Performance Officer, Nancy Killefer,” Time, January 9) Bush was supposed to be the first MBA president, but he rapidly became the first MIA president. Who’d've thunk that Obama would be the first guy to run the government like a real smart MBA? If you haven’t given him the benefit of the doubt yet, then Nancy Killefer, a superstar at McKinsey, should put you over the line. It’s a brilliant hire for an immensely creative position. You can worry about how much authority she might have (responsibility without authority is a recipe for disaster), but I have the feeling she, Obama, and Rahm Emmanuel have worked that out pretty well.


Good news only for businesspeople afraid to fly.

Small cities in 25 states — almost 100 communities in all — have lost commercial air service in the last two years for a variety of reasons, among them airline mergers, high fuel costs, the expense of serving smaller markets and a reduction in government aid to airlines that serve small communities. . . .

When a city loses commercial air service — finding itself hundreds of miles from the closest airport — it gives up tourist dollars, airport revenue and income that otherwise would spread to Main Street. Because airplanes connect businesses with customers, partners, suppliers and consultants, remote communities without service are less likely to attract or retain businesses — be they local entrepreneurs or offshoots of big corporations — that view wasted time and wasted money with equal disdain.

(“Lacking Airlines, Small Cities’ Economies Suffer ,” New York Times, January 9) Santa Fe does not have an airline? And Pullman, WA, does (Alaska)? Huh? Something to keep in mind for all small business entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. Many, if not most, of the highly successful entrepreneurs I deal with log tens of thousands of miles of air travel. WebEx can only go so far in building a business — at some point, you need to board a plane and meet people face-to-face. The lack of air service represents a substantial cost on doing business, a cost that multiplies as the business grows.


The news goes out of business.

After 146 years of delivering news, the Seattle P-I faces becoming what it has chronicled: history.

The Seattle P-I’s parent company, The Hearst Corp., said Friday that it has put the paper up for sale and will stop publishing unless someone buys it in 60 days. If no buyer emerges, the paper would either become a Web-only publication or cease all operations.

(“For Sale: The P-I,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 9) Seattle becomes the first major city to lose its newspaper. Even in the best circumstances — the paper gets sold — the P-I will cease print operations in a couple months and become a Web-only operation. What will that look like? You’ve heard me ask the question many times and I’ll ask it again: what happens when the news goes out of business? Keep in mind that papers like the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are at the forefront of keeping both our local and federal governments honest. Local papers took down people like Duke Cunningham, not the big bruisers like the Washington Post or the New York Times. Seriously, do you want all your news to come from the totally unhinged crowd like Matt Drudge, Andrew Sullivan, Arianna Huffington, Air America, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News? “Madness is like gravity, all you need is a little push.”

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