Remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit
John Kerry, Secretary of State
Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC
November 1, 2013
Good morning. Thank you. Thank you. Good morning. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thanks so much. Thank you, Penny, for an extraordinary introduction. And based on that introduction, I accept the nomination. (Laughter.) I’m totally kidding. I’m out of that now; I’m out of that now.
I’ll tell you, I – about a couple of months – I mean, before I was offered the job of being Secretary of State, I was still, obviously, serving in the United States Senate. And I was walking through an airport one day, and this fellow – you notice when people have that sense of recognition. And he points at me, and he says, “Hey, you, hey you, anybody tell you you look like that Kerry guy who we sent down to Washington?” (Laughter.) And I say, “Oh, they tell me that all the time.” He says, “Kind of makes you mad, don’t it?” (Laughter.) So I’m very happy to be out of the electoral process, folks. (Laughter.) It’s just fine by me.
I’m really happy to be here and I’m very, very honored to be introduced by Penny, who is a good friend. She was very involved with me in 2004 when I ran for President. I’m just so thrilled she is now our Commerce Secretary, and I’m very grateful for the effort and the energy that’s gone into making this first ever summit such a success. No one who knows Penny is going to be surprised by that, because everything that Penny has done – in business, in philanthropy, in public service – has always been a success. And those of you who know her know that she is really a dynamic CEO in her own right, and you can feel the energy and the leadership that she is already bringing to the Commerce Department. She’s a fabulous partner and I’m thrilled by it; very, very happy to have her there.
And I was with her, and she said – I heard her in the introduction talk about being in Kuala Lumpur together, and we had a chance to go out and break bread together. And we were chatting, and she was reminding me of the story of her dad who started the family business with one motel out in Los Angeles. And she kind of lived in the motel, and then she went up to San Francisco, and boom, it grew to six. And now everybody knows what Hyatt Hotels Incorporation are – it’s a great American story. It’s a great story of entrepreneurship, and we’re so proud of Penny and grateful that she’s stepping back from the private sector to share with us that expertise and give us the energy and dynamics we need.
Her leadership of SelectUSA is just one of the reasons that this effort has the potential to grow our country, and to grow all of yours, for those of you who are here visiting from so many other countries. And we welcome you here. The single biggest reason SelectUSA is going to make a difference is, frankly, all of you, a group of very capable business leaders, people who are hungry, who understand the dynamics of the marketplace, who are ambitious in your business goals, and come here with a vision from nearly 60 countries around the world and from all across the United States.
I said in my confirmation hearing, when I was selected to become Secretary of State – I said to the Senators, my former colleagues, that in many ways, foreign policy today is economic policy. And leaders in government need to understand that. There is a synergy and an importance to this relationship that cannot be denied.
I think many of you are here because you understand this new marketplace that we’re all operating in – voracious, huge appetite. And very, very fast-moving. And we wanted you to come here and SelectUSA is the umbrella that is hosting this event because we believe deeply – we’re convinced, based on our dealings in the world, the exposure in the world, without arrogance, without chauvinism – that there is no better place in the world to invest than here in America. And there’s no better time to do it, in many ways, than right now, because some of the growth and development of the last few years has sort of equalized out in some places so that manufacturing – as the Secretary said, the number of manufacturing jobs here now – we’re growing in manufacturing again because it’s competitive again for a lot of different reasons.
So make no mistake: As we look ahead to the major trends that are going to define this new age, the factors that will determine which countries thrive, as well as which businesses thrive in this competitive marketplace, I think it’s crystal clear that the United States is going to continue, because it’s the nature and base of our economy, not because we’re somehow superior and somehow better. We just – the nature of how we have grown and where we’ve come from, from the Industrial Revolution all the way through the 1990s and the tech explosion, and into where we are now. We will continue to lead the world in both innovation and education because of the nature of our universities, the structure, the number, and the openness with which they operate.