Developing Cultural and Economic Relations with Ostrava Mr Stephen King, the Ambassador of the USA in the Czech Republic, grew up in Chicago, Illinois, and earned an M.A. and B.S. at Western Illinois University. He is a significant public office-holder and entrepreneur who built and sold a specialty chemical manufacturing business, and founded a family investment business. Stephen B. King was confirmed by the Senate on October 5, 2017 as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic. He is married to Karen Ruyle. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren. What is the purpose of creating a cultural center in here in the library in Ostrava? First and foremost is to create an American presence in this part of the country which I think has been sadly absent for too long. Ostrava is very important as Ostrava is the third largest city in the country with a great industrial legacy. I have been here a couple times for events, NATO days and other such events, but shortly after I arrived as Ambassador, I asked where we have a presence outside the capital Prague - Brno, Plzen. – So what about Ostrava? We need to be there, so we were researching and we found this wonderful venue here. So first and foremost, we’re here because Ostrava matters. Second, I think it‘s to improve the growth of our cultural relationship between countries. We are looking forward to taking on a number of different cultural aspects to this venue here and participating more in the city, ideally in partnership with Ostrava’s American sister cities of Pittsburgh and Shreveport. And third, and in my opinion maybe most important, is our business relationships.
I‘d like to think my legacy here as ambassador is going to be primarily about growing the economic relationship between our countries. A number of U.S. firms are already investing here, and we’d like to expand on that. How do you perceive the presence of US companies here in the Ostrava region? There‘s an excellent presence here, outside of Prague and Brno - where many American companies are focused. You have this great industrial history here. Now I recognize that Mr. Babis and Mr. Havlicek are looking to move into a direction of innovation and that‘s fine. That‘s the way world is moving, and Brno is doing a nice job with that, Prague as well, but this region has a large heavy industry tradition here to build on. I was talking to the mayor just a few moments ago, and he was talking about the fact that the University of Ostrava is moving in the direction of more innovation and technology. The things you are doing here are going to help Ostrava catch up, and I want to help. I keep telling people,
80% of the Czech population lives outside of Prague. We are supposed to engage with the government, and the government is in Prague, but 80% of the action is outside, so get outside, talk to these cities like Ostrava and the regions because that‘s where the opportunities probably lie - more because of the great work ethic, the industrial history, the Czech golden hands, they are often outside of Prague. What do you think about Czech companies investing in the US. I keep telling Czech investors or Czech business people - , if you are not investing in the US, but simply shipping your product, you are missing opportunities. This is the largest market in the world, it‘s safe and the economy is growing 2-3% per year. You should be there. If you‘ve got a good product, you need to be in the United States and they are hearing that message. Thank you for the interview.
Americké kulturní centrum v Knihovně města Ostravy
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