Friday, February 7, 2020
Regional Governor Nikas, Mayor Vasilopoulos, President Xigoros, Mr. Plemmenos, Mr. Kabiotis, colleagues, friends, καλημέρα σας. Thank you for inviting me to Kalamata for the first stop of RouteLab 2020. I’m pleased to be able to spotlight and uplift local entrepreneurship and innovation in such a beautiful and richly storied part of Greece, and I look forward to returning to Kalamata soon. I warmly remember a visit to Kalamata last February, when the blooming fruit trees gave me the first sign that spring was arriving in Greece.
This is a really exciting time in U.S.-Greece relations. During Prime Minister Mitsotakis’ fantastically successful visit to Washington last month, the Prime Minister spread the word that Greece is open for business, and there are many reasons for optimism.
American companies like Pfizer, Cisco, DeLoitte, and Amazon Web Services are doubling down on their presence in Greece in response to Greece’s emerging high-tech and knowledge-based sectors. Meanwhile, highly educated Greek engineers at companies like Nokia collaborate daily with their American counterparts to develop next-generation solutions to telecommunications infrastructure.
I see in Greece the same talented and ambitious human capital as in my home state of California, and the U.S. Embassy has made concerted efforts to help grow Greece’s entrepreneurial sector and encourage U.S. investment and partnerships with Greek companies. My visits to science and technology parks in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Ioannina, Heraklion, and Alexandroupoli confirm that young Greek entrepreneurs are making great strides and learning from the U.S. startup system.
Kalamata’s combination of history, landscape, and culture makes the Peloponnese unique in Greece, and the city has great potential for innovative growth in agro-tech and tourism. The Embassy has supported several programs in Kalamata over the years, and we are especially proud that Kalamata was the first host of our CodeGirls program, which promotes youth and women’s entrepreneurship and focuses on digital skills and gender equality.
As one of the fountainheads of our Western civilization, Greece has led the world in entrepreneurship and innovation for thousands of years. Our countries share this dynamic spirit and these core values. We look forward to strengthening the partnerships between entrepreneurs and creative individuals from both of our countries for years to come. And as we begin 2020, please accept my best wishes for a bright and successful new year. Ευχαριστώ πολύ.