A few years ago, we were in New York City for the National Speakers Association’s annual convention. It was my first time in NYC. I was fascinated by the tall buildings and couldn’t help looking up at the skyscrapers. We had a free evening and were going to do some site seeing. Kay, part of our group from the Ohio Chapter, was our leader. She knew her way around NYC having worked there for several years as a stand-up comic before returning to Columbus. She warned us, “Don’t look up!” “Is it bad for our neck?” “No.” Kay responded, “They’ll think you’re a tourist. That would be bad.” I wondered if the camera around my neck, constantly taking pictures or the look of wonder on my face would give me away.
Last week at SelectUSA in Washington, DC. the opening reception was downtown at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The tourists in Washington, DC were easy to spot. Most appeared to be foreigners. They were taking pictures of everything. Some had the same look of wonder as I did on my first trip to New York. I felt the same way on my first trip to DC seeing the monuments, the Capitol and White House for the first time.
Our country and its government are unique in the world. “We the people” are in charge. Unfortunately, sometimes we allow our elected leaders and the bureaucrats to forget by not engaging in the election process or not communicating with our elected representatives. Freedom of speech and the press are two of the most important rights we have. My father, fought in WWII, he didn’t agree with the Vietnam War protestors, but was willing to put his life on the line and get wounded by a grenade in combat to defend their right express opinions even if he didn’t agree. Fragments from the grenade still remained in his body, a constant reminder of his sacrifice. Occasionally one would appear below the skin and then disappear.
Whether on a college campus or at a public meeting Americans have the right to peacefully express their opinions. We need to hear both sides of issues. Our history shows the minority sometimes is right. There is no place in a free America for shouting people down or intimidating people into silence. Many SelectUSA attendees don’t have free speech in their home countries. Disagreeing with the government can get you thrown in jail or worse. They expressed opinions here although quietly. One of the comments I heard more than once was, “What governments in Europe are doing now isn’t sustainable.”
In addition to personal liberty the USA has economic opportunity. The combination of personal liberty and economic opportunity is rare in the world. That is why people come. Their creativity can make them wealthy in the USA. We had companies approach us with new software that can make manufacturing plants safer and family farms more productive. Some had developed products like biodegradable plastic bags, colored fabrics without dyes and a waste converter that turns food waste into compost without heaters. Companies have developed ways to convert plastic waste into valuable products. They want to go into business here.
After SelectUSA Nathan and I went to visit CRDC, a Costa Rican company, who opened their first facility outside of Costa Rica in York, PA. Shale Crescent USA was instrumental in bringing them to the region to eliminate plastic waste and create jobs. Their process takes ALL grades of mixed, dirty plastic waste and turns it into a product that makes concrete blocks lighter and stronger. They are currently taking 1-2 tons of plastic waste (they call it feedstock) per hour out of the environment. They will be adding a second shift and expanding to other areas.
In the 1980s the late Earl Nightingale said on his cassette tape series Lead the Field, a person coming to the USA with little money and not even knowing the language had a higher chance of becoming a millionaire than a person born in the USA. Earl theorized that free for the first time in their lives without the government restrictions of their home country and unlimited opportunity, most Americans take for granted, immigrants go to work and became successful.
One gentleman from the Middle East explained at breakfast his reason for looking at U.S. opportunities to invest in. “The USA is the safest place to invest.” In the unstable Middle East, a war can happen at any time and destroy your investment. Europe’s economy is in decline. Their energy is expensive and unreliable. Companies wait for Government Policies to tell them what to do. They are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign raw materials and energy. American companies especially midsize companies are still innovating. Investing in China and many other countries is risky because the government can change the rules anytime and even nationalize an investment.
The USA is still the beacon of hope and freedom to the world. Immigrants aren’t coming here for government handouts. They are coming for freedom and economic opportunity. Our oldest grandson and his fiancée just had their first child. We had dinner with them in Virginia before going to SelectUSA. We were hoping to see the baby before we left the area but she decided to wait until we were back in West Virginia to be born. This is a new generation for our family. I want our new granddaughter to have the same opportunities as Lynnda, me and our children have had.
The USA has been blessed with personal liberty, economic opportunity and the natural resources to remain a free nation and be an example to the world. To whom much has been given, much is expected. We must all work together to preserve our freedom and continue to grow economic opportunity in the USA so our new granddaughter’s generation will also have a bright future.
Greg Kozera/, [email protected] is Director of Marketing and Sales for Shale Crescent USA. www.shalecrescentusa.com (You can follow SCUSA on Facebook) He is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering and over 40 years’ experience in the energy industry. Greg is a leadership expert, high school soccer coach, professional speaker, author of four books and numerous published articles.