“Big business is the only free, non-revolutionary social organization.”
-- Peter Drucker
First, jobs and unemployment: The New York Times did a May 26 story on Rosen entitled “A Bet for Florida Pays Off.” The reporter was surprised to learn that Harris Rosen didn’t cut back and lay off workers during the 2008 financial crisis, even though hotel occupancy rates had fallen substantially as tourists stopped coming to Disney World and Universal. He used his substantial cash reserve and retained earnings ($130 million!) to renovate his seven hotels. He refused to lay off any workers (he considers them family). In fact, he hired more marketing staffers to entice tour groups from Brazil and South Korea to come to Florida.
Rosen is a smart businessman who doesn’t buy into the myth that current consumer spending drives the economy. What’s important is what the customer does in the future. And Rosen made an educated bet, based on his experience, that the drop off in the tourist business was temporary. He made plans to take advantage of the recovery.
“We did it because we knew things would get better, and we knew it would be much less costly because construction wasn’t doing well,” Rosen said. ”If we had waited until construction came back, the same work would have cost us $175 million to $200 million.”
And he was right. Now Florida tourism is booming, and Rosen Hotels & Resorts are taking full advantage.
Second, high cost of medical expenses: Rosen is also a visionary when it comes to affordable healthcare for his employees. His privately funded “Rosen Care” is 10 times better than the government-mandated “Obamacare.” Rosen has first-class fitness centers and medical facilities to take care of his 4,000 employees at substantial savings over the national average, and it costs less than other medical insurance programs.
Finally, welfare: Rosen has a volunteer “anti-poverty” program that really works at Tangelo Park in Central Florida, where high-school graduation levels have soared and crime has fallen sharply amid his “good-works” activities.
Want to know more? Come to Freedom Fest, July 9-12, at Planet Hollywood, Las Vegas, and get the whole story. Steve Forbes will interview Harris Rosen and show how there are private solutions to public problems, whether it be jobs, poverty, healthcare or the environment.