Alejandro Freixes
Oct 20, 2011

GE CEO preaches American innovation to US Navy


Jeff Immelt, the GE Chairman and CEO, gave a rousing speech to nearly 5,000 Navy midshipmen in which he extolled the virtues of American ingenuity. As the US economy slumps and companies tighten their purse strings, he lauded men like Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison who did the opposite.  Jeff Immelt said there is “only one economic path for the future. We need growth; the kind of growth that creates jobs.” This growth can only arise from  “regaining our love for competition.”


GE will devote over one billion dollars to research and development into cancer research and clean energy. In keeping with the spirit of expansion and innovation, Jeff Immelt offers the solution that “there is probably not a single thing we could do to create more near-term jobs and increase long-term productivity and competitiveness than invest in our infrastructure.” Noting that American infrastructure ranks 16th in the world, he explains to the midshipment that they will face, “the three great challenges for your generation: healthcare, energy and infrastructure.”

In response to the growing tendency to ship jobs overseas for cheaper labor, thereby cutting American jobs and stifling economic growth in the long-term, Jeff Immelt extols GE because, “we have a gas turbine plant that employs 3,000 people in South Carolina.” He explains that this domestic investment will lead to global profits because "this year, all of the turbines they build will be sold outside of the United States.”

Praising the midshipmen for their own leadership and service, he encouraged optimism. “Let’s do it. Let’s build confidence. And let’s put that natural inventive genius of Americans to work. And let’s win."