Author Archives: Chelsea Creekmore

President George H.W. Bush Embodied a Lifelong Commitment to Country

In 2012, as Chair of the National Lieutenant Governs Association (NLGA) I led a bipartisan delegation to Germany that included Lieutenant Governors: Kim Reynolds from Iowa, John Sanchez from New Mexico, Elizabeth Roberts from Rhode Island, and Greg Francis from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The trip was sponsored by the Frederic Neumann Foundation, which works to strengthen transatlantic relationships between the United States and Germany. Germany is the United States sixth largest trading partner. The Foundation regularly brings together business and government leaders from the two countries in an effort to build relationships and seek out mutually beneficial policies and opportunities.

 In Central Massachusetts there are several Germany companies with significant manufacturing operations in the region. Additionally, several area manufacturers also have operations in Germany as well.

 This past weekend, I attended a Naumann Foundation Conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. On Sunday, before our panel discussion, our host Claus Gramckow started our session with a tribute to U.S. President George H.W. Bush, acknowledging the critical role he played in facilitating the historic reunification of Germany in 1989 – 1990, which began when the Berlin Wall came down. This was no small accomplishment as President Bush had to convince a weary British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, and French President, François Mitterrand, that a united democratic Germany was the right thing to do notwithstanding two costly World Wars between these nations. Moreover, President Bush was able to work with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, to free East Germany from the Soviet Union’s grip. Several years ago, my father, forever the history teacher, gave me a copy of Jon Meacham’s biography of the 41st President, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. The book provides an outstanding account that validates how pivotal a role President Bush played in uniting Germany after the Berlin Wall fell.

The other item in Meacham’s book that brought back a personal memory involved baseball. President Bush attended Yale, following his service as a navy pilot in World War II, and played for the Yale baseball team, where he was the captain. Meacham’s book tells the story how his young wife Barbara Bush would attend many of these games.

Sometime in 1993 – 1994, my friend Tom Gibbons secured two tickets to a Red Sox game behind the visitors’ dugout. The Red Sox were playing the Texas Rangers. Shortly after the game started several large Boston Police Department motorcycle officers, followed by several plain clothed officers appeared around our seats. Moments later President Bush and Barbara Bush walked out to the Rangers dugout to take their seats several rows in front of us. It appeared that Barbara Bush was keeping a box score of the game. At one point between innings, President Bush was informed that his presence would be announced over the Fenway Park public address system. He replied, looking at his wife, “They will probably boo me.” Moments later, when President Bush was welcomed to Fenway, he received a very warm reception by the crowd and commented, “Well that was a pleasant surprise,” glancing at his wife with a smile.

 Political differences aside, there were many things to admire about President Bush’s service to the United States. His 70 years of public service began with his service as an 18-year-old Navy pilot who experienced combat during World War II and ended as President. Hopefully, as President Bush is remembered and laid to rest, perhaps we can contemplate ways and take actions that serve our country and communities in a fashion that make us the “kinder, gentler nation” he aspired for us.

 

 

From Worcester to China

In early October I flew the 6:00 AM jetBlue flight out of Worcester to John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) in New York City. The plane landed at JFK in under an hour. While at JFK, I took out my IPAD and along with my cell phone worked for much of the day.  At 3:00 PM I began the short process of boarding a plane to Beijing, China, where I would join a small group of Chamber of Commerce leaders who I would accompany on an inspection tour of China. The inspection tour was a visit to explore whether our respective Chambers of Commerce would be interested in hosting a group tour at a later date. These tours are facilitated by Citslinc, International, which works closely with Chambers across the United States and Canada. After a very smooth flight (12 1/2 hours) we landed in Beijing, China at approximately 8:00 PM where we were greeted by our hosts and tour guides. We quickly boarded our tour bus and were off to a beautiful hotel where we would prepare for a full day of meetings and sightseeing visits the following day. The trip from Worcester to Beijing reinforced that from Worcester Regional Airport people can travel from Worcester to virtually anywhere in the world. These flight options will grow next summer when Delta adds daily flights to Detroit. This will give Worcester daily connections to major hubs in New York City, Philadelphia, Orlando and Detroit.

Recently is has become very difficult to read a newspaper or online news report or turn on the TV or radio and not hear about trade tariff disputes between the United States and China or the military tensions in the South China Sea. The reality is that the two nations represent the two largest economies in the world and tensions will occur. In this regard, while it is important to address legitimate issues of trade inequities, industrial espionage and free and open access to international shipping lanes and fly zones as well as human rights, it is imperative that leaders between the two countries strive to find common ground and trade balances as a stable world order is key to the growth of both nations.

One of the means for us to do so is to have government, business, and citizens of both countries learn about the history and cultures of each other’s societies. China is one of the earliest civilizations known to mankind with dynastic monarchies ruling the country for centuries before modern day China took form in the post-World War II era led by the Chinese Communist Party. Our trip allowed us to visit many of these historic locations and with our knowledgeable tour guides, gain an understanding of how many of these ancient sites and traditions influence modern China to this current day.  These locations include the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Ming Tombs.  We also visited the Capitol city of Beijing, as well as Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. 

As previously mentioned, trade between our two countries is significant. China is the United States’ third largest trading partner. China, with a population of approximately 1.415 billion people sent 19% of all their exports to the Unites States in 2017, which was valued at $431.7 billion. During that same year the Unites States, with an approximate population of 326.766 million, sent 8.4% of all U.S. exports to China which was valued at approximately $130.4 billion.  The United States’ top trading partner is Canada, with a population of about 37 million people. The Unites States sends 18.3 % of its exports valued at $282.5 billion to Canada. The United States second largest trading partner is Mexico, where the Unites States sends 15.7% of all its exports valued at $243 billion. Mexico’s population is about 130.759 million.

According to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, by 2030, China will be the most popular tourist country in the world. They will surpass both the United States and France in this regard. Currently, tourism represents about 11% of China’s GDP and employees 28.3 million people. Our visit underscored this growing trend, in that the Chinese government recognizes that their rich history and growing economy serve dual purposes in bringing visitors to China. Our trip reinforced the effort that the Chinese have undertaken to grow their tourism industry. This includes major investments in transportation infrastructure such as new airports, the largest investment in high-speed rail in the world that links all corners of China together, as well as scores of new roads and bridges. Witnessing these massive investments in transportation, makes clear the need for the United States to do the same if we are going to stay competitive in a growing world economy that includes a modern China. The Chinese government recognizes that a first class transportation infrastructure goes hand and hand with building and maintaining a strong economy. Moreover, as Chinese history demonstrates through things such as the Great Wall, the Chinese have always been willing to undertake large infrastructure projects for the betterment of their nation. Historically, the American people have had the same will as well.

Overall the trip was an excellent experience that gave great insight into China’s history, modern day economy and business climate, transportation investments and perspective of the Chinese people in a new China. As a fellow world super power, the more that we as Americans can understand this perspective, the better able we will be to navigate the challenges that will invariably arise between our two nations, and continue to maintain U.S. economic, diplomatic, and military leadership in world affairs. To learn more about this trip you are invited to attend an information session on December 5 at 5:30 pm at the Worcester Chamber, 311 Main Street, suite 2. A light dinner will be served. Also, please go to our website at WorcesterChamber.org to learn more. This trip is open to both Chamber members and non-members. To RSVP for the information session, please email Alex Guardiola at [email protected] or call him at 508-753-2924 x 222.