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Good evening and thank you so much for your warm welcome. It's an honor for me to speak with you in this beautiful setting at the Palmer House Hilton.

It's also a tremendous pleasure to be here, once again, in one of the truly great global cities. In the words of Sammy Cahn made famous by Frank Sinatra, Chicago is, indeed, "my kind of town."

You've already been introduced to everyone at this very...long table... But I'd like to recognize three gentlemen who are part of our Coca-Cola family.

The first is a new member of our board of directors... a man who has devoted his life to helping make Chicago the great city it is tonight. And he's a good friend.

The former Mayor of Chicago, the honorable Richard Daley.

I'd also like to acknowledge one of Chicago's most accomplished business, civic and philanthropic leaders, another good friend of mine, the chairman of the board of the McDonald's Corporation, Mr. Andy McKenna.

Finally, another terrific friend of Chicago and Coca-Cola is here... a former bottling partner and past member of the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mr. Marvin Herb.

I'd also like to thank all of the wonderful Coca-Cola customers and partners who are here tonight. We appreciate your business, your partnership and, most of all, your friendship.

As you may have heard, Coca-Cola turned 125 years young last year.

In May, we toasted everyone who's been a part of our story... a story that began on a magical spring day in 1886 when Dr. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist, mixed up the very first Coca-Cola.

Chicagoans got their first taste of Coca-Cola just seven years later, at the Chicago World's Fair and Columbian Exhibition of 1893.

I think it's safe to say we started carefully... prudently here in Chicago.

In 1899, Coca-Cola's Chicago offices occupied a 16-foot store-room on Wabash Avenue that had formerly been a Turkish bath.

Our people delivered syrup with a small, pre-owned wagon, pulled by horses rented for a dollar a day.

A humble beginning, to be sure and one we can never, ever lose sight of.

From the very start, our Coca-Cola predecessors -- both here and around the world -- believed in the simple but powerful promise of our brand.

A brand dedicated to:

*refreshing the world
*inspiring moments of optimism and happiness
*creating value and making a difference.

Together with close to 300 bottling partners and 20 million customers who sell our beverages, we're now refreshing the world nearly 1.8 billion times a day.

We're doing so with Coca-Cola and 500-plus other brands, including 15 billion-dollar brands. ..

And, as you know, the world right now can use some refreshment and happiness.

There are some very real, very significant global challenges.

The uncertainty and lingering confusion among many people -- particularly in the developed world -- is understandable.

The impact of the economic downturn has been mixed, with many parts of Asia and Africa remaining what I call "crisis unaware."

The recovery, which seems to be taking a few tentative steps in this country, also promises to be mixed.

This evening, I believe there are three consistent, inter-connected themes we must focus on as we search for ways to crack the code for growth.

To win and grow sustainably, I believe we must restore confidence, governance, and social harmony.

Here and abroad, public confidence in institutions is at historical lows. Not just in governments and legislatures, but in business, education, NGOs and even religious institutions.

And some have even questioned the future of capitalism.

Truth is, capitalism and free markets, while not perfect, are light years ahead of any alternative in improving lives, spreading freedom, creating wealth and bettering society.

Indeed, the world's strongest and wealthiest economies are often those with the most economic freedoms.

Our challenge, however, is to make capitalism more effective. And this is not so much about more or less rules -- but about having the right rules and frameworks.

Rebuilding long-term trust requires repairing our governance models... a task that takes ongoing collaboration across business, government and civil society.

Protests are a symptom of a lack of confidence in institutions -- and related feelings of lost opportunity.

Such cracks in social harmony can only be repaired by growth, investment, innovation and job creation.

From a business perspective, I look for policies that provide smart incentives, strip away obstructionist bureaucracies, and reach out to business, government and civil society in the spirit of partnership, collaboration and action.

For our part, business must learn to work in harmony with government.

Because, together, we must keep growing. We cannot tax, spend, cut or save our way to prosperity.

Instead, we must find the calculus for growth through aggressive partnership between business and government and civil society.

Right now, we've reached a point where many traditional growth models and innovation models are no longer as effective.

We need to evolve our models to ensure capitalism is better connected to society, both here in the West as well as the emerging markets of the world.

As a result, tax, regulatory, governance, education and economic development policies are being rethought all over the world.

Singapore has long been out in front in this regard. In 2011, the nation's GDP grew over 6 percent, and it continued to attract foreign investment.

Singapore ranks second in the world, behind only Hong Kong, in the latest Index of Economic Freedom. And trust in Singapore's institutions is among the highest in the world.

Then there's Germany , the glue straining to hold the Eurozone together. Germany is strong now because of Gerhard Schröder's Agenda 2010 in 2004... an initiative that cleared the mist by creating intelligent incentives for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Germany is proving that manufacturing is far from dead in developed economies. And it's now the world's second-largest exporter, behind only China.

Chile is another bright spot, growing at nearly 7 percent in 2011 on the strength of its economic stability, monetary discipline, and strong fiscal policies.

Chile is also among the world's most tax-friendly business environments.

And Chile has made huge investments in business, transportation and infrastructure... emerging as a major center of foreign investment and job creation.

And let me tell you what else Chile is doing.

Just across the street from our Atlanta headquarters, Chile is getting bright young Georgia Tech students to look south: way, way south.

Together, Chile's business and government leaders are wooing Georgia Tech's best and brightest, inviting them to start their own technology and social entrepreneurship businesses in Chile.

They're giving these bright young American graduates seed money, office space, management mentorships and other incentives.

Already, one group of young men has developed a system to help Chile's hotels use less energy.

We're also seeing a lot of innovative economic development policies at the civic and subnational levels.

In the U.S., states as diverse as Texas, Florida, Virginia, Colorado, Georgia, Delaware, and New Jersey are doing a great job developing intelligent incentives to attract and partner with business.

In New Jersey, Governor Christie's Business Action Center is a one-stop shop for addressing business expansion and retention efforts.

In fact, we worked closely with them before opening a new LEED-certified facility and keeping 1,000 jobs in that state.

In a similar way, we worked with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to open a new $100 million Baton Rouge plant that's creating jobs, preserving natural resources, and stimulating much-needed investment.

In California , Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome recently laid out a plan -- which I was asked to review and comment on -- to make the Golden State more business-friendly.

His plan consolidates all economic development, small business, job creation, foreign trade, regulatory oversight, business permitting and recruitment and retention functions.

At the city level, we're seeing innovative policies in places like New York City, where the government has established more than 40 projects to promote the development of new technology clusters.

In 2011, the Big Apple overtook Massachusetts to become the nation's Number 2 tech capital, behind only Silicon Valley.

What's perhaps most impressive about these initiatives is that they're rooted in a spirit of partnership -- and built on an awareness that growth policies must be market-oriented.

I should also mention that in every nation, state and local jurisdiction I just mentioned, Coca-Cola is growing, creating jobs, and stimulating economic growth across our value chain.

Throughout this global economic crisis, I've been very bullish on the United States -- and remain so tonight.

The current recovery, while anemic in terms of job creation, has been broad-based. U.S. business investment is up 18 percent since year-end 2009.

U.S. manufacturing, a sector many had written off, has rebounded quickly, adding over 300,000 jobs in the past two years. U.S. exports, meanwhile, are growing at an annualized rate of 16 percent.

Labor productivity in the United States is now the highest among G-20 countries. As a result, U.S. unit labor costs have dropped more than in any G-20 country except Taiwan.

What's driving all of this? Costs are down, making U.S. labor more competitive. We're also seeing a boom in energy that's fueling job growth. And public investments in infrastructure, training and R&D are spurring private investment as well.

As the world struggles to reset and restart, its number one economy must lead the way.

The world needs a strong America... a strong American economy... and strong American diplomacy.

Last week, I was in Washington meeting with China's Vice President Xi Jinping, who will become China's next President within the next 12 months.

I represented Coca-Cola in my role as Chair of the U.S- China Business Council -- a group of leading American companies committed building stronger commercial ties between our two nations.

We held a CEO roundtable and hosted a luncheon for Vice President Xi.

And I can tell you this: he's a pragmatic man...a leader very much in tune with the world beyond China and the importance of international trade and globalization.

And President Xi understands that a strong American economy is good for his nation and the world beyond.

Tonight, I'm confident America can and will rise to the occasion.

There are six essential reasons why:

First, America is growing. Over the next 40 years, the U.S. is likely to add 100 million people. Our fertility rates are the highest in the developed world.

Second, we are young. By 2050, only a quarter of our population will be over 60, compared with 31 percent in China, 41 percent in Japan and still higher percentages in much of Europe.

Third, we're multi-cultural. Half of the world's skilled immigrants come to the U.S. And these new Americans have launched nearly a quarter of all venture-backed U.S. companies since 1990.

Fourth, we're enterprising. Two out of three new U.S. jobs are created by businesses less than five years old.

Fifth, we're innovative. The U.S. produces more patents and inventions than the rest of the world combined.

And sixth, we're generous. The American ethic of service and giving is alive and well, with people in this country giving more than $300 billion a year to charitable causes.

These trends won't disappear overnight.

And there is still more reason to be optimistic for the future.

A recent Wall Street Journal piece -- "The Coming Tech-Led Boom" -- explains that we're on the cusp of three transformative technology shifts.

Shifts that could be as valuable in this century as cars, telephones and radio waves were in the last.

Specifically, the authors point to the emergence of: ...massive data storage and cloud computing ...next-generation manufacturing at the molecular level... and the wireless revolution.

All three shifts are centered here in America, where we have the youthful demographics, the cultural vitality and the higher education system to make the most of them.

One of the authors is with us here tonight, the Dean of the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern, Dr. Julio Ottino.

By the way, I don't believe it's a mere coincidence that Dr. Ottino is here in Chicago.

Chicago has often been called the most American of American cities. And with good reason.

Many of the strengths of this country are strengths shared with this community:

*Youthful vigor.
*Cultural diversity.
*Entrepreneurial spirit and hustle.
*A culture of innovation.
*Outsized generosity.

And these traits of Chicago and your business community are hardly new to Coca-Cola.

As I said, we go back a long way together -- back to the days when we were making deliveries with rented horses.

Today, Coca-Cola continues to have a good vantage point to see what's working here, particularly in businesses related to ours.

One of the things we're most proud of at Coca-Cola is the economic value we're creating for our customers, from the largest to the smallest -- and everything in between.

Here in Chicago, we're privileged to work with Tony's Finer Foods, a local grocery chain that's kept right on growing, even in the toughest part of the recession.

The owner, Tony Ingraffia, has been in the business since he began sweeping up his family's first store -- 9,000-square-feet -- when he was 13.

He opened his eighth -- and newest -- store along with a new company office in late 2010.

And he knows his business.

In fact, one of the most powerful reasons for Tony's success has been his unrelenting commitment to meeting the evolving needs of his customers.

Today, four of Tony's eight stores cater to Hispanic neighborhoods.

He makes sure he has the right groceries, the right perishables, and butchers who speak Spanish.

He does likewise in his other stores, tailoring them very specifically to the neighborhood.

For our part at Coca-Cola, we work with Tony, sharing our shopper insights and listening to his.

Innovation is a two-way street.

In fact, Tony is a member of our Hispanic Advisory Council, helping us make sure we're doing all we can to meet the needs of Latino consumers.

And what do we see for the future of Coca-Cola?

Over the course of this decade, we have a plan to double our business.

This plan -- our 2020 Vision and Roadmap for Winning Together -- was created in partnership with our bottling partners in 2009.

It's not a plan for the faint-of-heart but we do believe it's achievable.

Why?

Because ours is a growth business, with potential to grow in all markets.

And the trends are very favorable.

*Rising economic vitality in the developing world
*A billion people joining the global middle class in this decade.
*Rapid urbanization generating 700 million more people migrating to cities by 2020.

Add up just those three trends and you have a dramatic increase in people living more active, on-the-go urban lifestyles -- lifestyles tailor-made for non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages.

As we grow our business, we're also committed to strengthening the communities where we live and work, all around the world.

We know our business can only be as strong and healthy as the communities we serve.

That's one of the reasons why, over the last decade, we've given more than $3 million to worthy organizations in the Chicago area.

These include, among others, the world-famous Jesse White Tumblers, who we couldn't be more proud of. And I'm very pleased we have Secretary White with us tonight!

And we're not just writing checks, important as that is.

Our company -- with more than 2,000 Chicagoland associates -- is directly involved in efforts where we can put our know-how to work for people and families and local communities.

In the Village of Niles, we've helped build and maintain one of Cook County's largest community rain gardens.

Last May, in celebration of our 125 th anniversary, our people built and donated to local residents 125 rain barrels made from 55-gallon syrup drums.

And our people have participated in many coastal cleanups on the shores of Lake Michigan with people from the Shedd Aquarium and others.

We also have a very strong supply chain here in the Chicago area, where we spend more than $2 billion dollars a year with close to 1,500 suppliers.

It's all part of making a difference and creating shared value in our communities.

The late, great Coca-Cola chairman Robert Woodruff, who led our Company for more than half of the last century, liked to say that the world belongs to the discontented.

All these years later, wherever I go around the world, I encourage our Coca-Cola people to remain "constructively discontent."

And I believe this is one of the great reasons behind the success not only of our Chicago-area customers but also of Chicago itself.

There's a distinct restlessness here, a yearning for progress, for something better.

Being constructively discontent is something in your Chicago DNA and that of your leaders... business leaders... civic leaders... p hilanthropic leaders.

It's part of what makes this city so resilient -- along, of course, with your love for the Cubs.

Cubs fans, by definition, must be tough and resilient... and you are.

My good friend Warren Buffet likes to say, don't bet against America. And I couldn't agree more.

I'd also add, don't bet against the city of Chicago and its wonderful people.

Because if the last 180 years are any indication, your city is only going to get better and stronger and more prosperous in the years to come.

Along the way, whenever you need refreshment, I can promise you this: we will be ready with an ice-cold Coca-Cola!

Thank you very much!