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General Electric (NYSE:GE) Chief Executive and Chair of President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness Jeff Immelt gave a positive assessment of the U.S. economy to those present at Wednesday night’s speech at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
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“The U.S. economy, after a deep recession, gets a little bit better every day,” said the professed Republican. “We’re just in a slow steady climb out.” As to the rest of the world, Immelt said the European economy has remained tough but not “bad enough to really offset global momentum,” and that he expects solid growth in China.
His speech entitled “Globalization and Lessons of Leadership” was presented at the university’s annual David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas. Begun in 1995, the festival features key figures in politics, sports, business, entertainment, research, and culture.
The university’s student publication, The Daily Athenaeum, reported that the event was a success. This morning’s editorial said, “Immelt, one of the premier business leaders in the world, talked about the state of the U.S. economy, gave advice on leadership and emphasized the importance of tone and attitude – both for individuals and for corporations.”
Immelt said the economy is improving, but work must be done to help. The chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest companies outlined five areas where he believes the United States needs improvement: the number of math and science majors should double, the manufacturing sector should increase, globalization has to be accepted, energy independence is necessary, and the value placed on training and education should be greater.
The biggest problem he sees for America is divisiveness. “I think when times are tough, you can either divide or come together,” Immelt said. “I think tone matters an incredible amount.”
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