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
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
Thank you for the interview.
Americké kulturní centrum v Knihovně města Ostravy
POSITIV 4/2019 ǀ 45