Last night on CBS’s 60 Minutes, GE’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt spoke to Leslie Stahl about GE’s global business and jobs and economic recovery in the United States.
Here are some highlights:
On GE, Growing Global Markets and American Jobs
Stahl travelled with Immelt to a GE Aviation plant in Batesville, Mississippi, which helps manufacture GEnx engines for the new Boeing Dreamliner, and pointed out that the company had invested $1.5 billion in developing the engine before the first sale had been made. They also visited GE’s Appliance Park in Louisville, Kentucky, where GE has been bringing back jobs from China and Mexico. GE has 133,000 employees in the U.S. and since 2009 had announced the creation of 8,000 new jobs.
60% of GE’s revenue comes from overseas markets. On the floor of GE’s jet engine servicing plant in Petropolis, Brazil, Immelt said that GE’s expansion in rapidly growing global markets, like in Brazil, had allowed GE to preserve and add jobs at home: “If I wasn’t out chasing orders in every corner of the world, we’d have tens of thousands fewer employees in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts, Texas. I’m never going to apologize [for expanding globally], ever, ever.”
On the Jobs Council’s Recommendations to President Obama
Since January of this year Immelt has served as the Chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. This week the Council will present proposals to President Obama, growing out of meetings held across the country for the last several months, including ones to reduce burdensome government regulations and to spend more on job retraining programs.
On the Importance of Investment in Unsure Bets
Addressing GE’s investments in the solar power industry, Immelt made the case for investment in nascent industries, noting that for GE, these investments are low risk because of the company’s technology portfolio and scale: “We ought to be percolating twenty $1 billion businesses all the time that can grow inside our system.”