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Jeff Immelt Talks Economy in New Canaan

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The financial welfare of the United States is getting better, but there will be some bumps in the road, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt said in a talk in New Canaan Sunday.

“If I gave you a kind of a perspective on the economy, I’d say it’s slightly better with more volatility,” said Immelt during his address as guest speaker Sunday at St. Luke’s School.  Immelt’s address was part of the New Canaan Library’s annual Conversations with Business Leaders.

Immelt said he tells people to prepare for what is “a new normal” and that the country will see slow growth over several years rather than a quick turnaround.

With so much of the innovation coming from California’s Silicon Valley, Immelt said that region – not New York City or Chicago – is the nation’s new industrial hub. “When I think about what works, what has to work, it starts with science, technology and innovation,” he said.

In order to create more jobs, Immelt said high schools and community colleges will be very important.  “You’ve got to match the jobs that are going to be in Connecticut and we ought to be taking high school seniors and putting them in curriculums to get them ready for those jobs,” he said. “If I were governor or a mayor, I would map the open jobs to the people.”

Immelt said he understands the frustrations of the Occupy Wall Street movement, though he did not expect to see protestors outside of his home last year. “The only way ultimately to feel better as a country is to create jobs. There’s only one road out of here, guys,” he said.

Immelt also repeated his endorsement of the Simpson-Bowles plan to cut the national deficit.

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