U.S.-Israel business initiative boosted in Arizona

A working bond between two nations is always something to herald. U.S. diplomatic efforts around the world have led to productive partnerships with countries across the globe.  While nation-to-nation bridge-building is common, it’s altogether uncommon for a state to develop its own unique relationship with an entire country. That’s just what Arizona has done in establishing a relationship with the nation of Israel.

On May 9, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce U.S.-Israel Business Initiative signed a memorandum of understanding. This partnership represents a common focus on supporting economic and commercial ties between our state and the nation of Israel.

The new initiative includes four areas of collaboration: water, financial technology (FinTech), technology and startups, and defense and aerospace. These are emerging areas of investment nationwide, and especially here at home where Arizona continues to carve out a corner in all four sectors.

“Arizona and Israel share common interests and are making strides in several areas,” said Glenn Hamer, President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Advancing smart water policy as well as innovative solutions for efficient water management is especially important. Both Israel and Arizona are thriving despite being located in arid regions where water is essential to continued growth.”

Hamer also sees common ground in entrepreneurship. “Israel is the startup nation, and Arizona is really the startup state. We both value entrepreneurship and enterprise. We share so many common interests and are making such important strides in areas ranging from water stewardship to FinTech to defense, that a closer working relationship is just natural.”

Other Arizona organizations are looking to Israel, including the Arizona Israel Technology Alliance (AITA), The University of Arizona and Tech Parks Arizona.

AITA’s goal is to encourage trade and collaboration between the technology communities of both states. It does so by focusing on seven verticals, which are cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles, med and bio-tech, agri-tech and water, FinTech and blockchain, artificial intelligence and missile defense and aviation. AITA hosts delegations in Arizona and Israel to spur partnerships and bolster trade.

“We have seen a tremendous spike in interest from Israel into Arizona,” said Leib Bolel, CEO of AITA. “This can largely be attributed to deregulated industries, most recently in FinTech.”

Bolel pointed out that all large metropolis’ in the U.S. have a relationship with Israel that is being facilitated by an entity such as AITA, which is in the very early stages. Since establishing AITA, Bolel says that there has already been such a demand for the type of connections that it provides.

While AITA has already made headway in facilitating relations internationally between the two states, the next step is to create avenues for Israeli companies already located elsewhere in the U.S. to move to Arizona for its regulatory benefits. Word travels quickly in the Israeli technology and business world, and Bolel says that AITA is already getting inquiries organically from companies that heard about the work the alliance is doing and the results it has produced for its partners.

“This is still in the early stage, there is so much greatness and potential that can happen,” Bolel said.

Bruce Wright, associate vice president of Tech Parks Arizona, says that Tucson’s strong presence of community and business leaders who are familiar and involved with Israel has been highly beneficial in newer pursuits to attract Israeli businesses to the region. Tech Parks Arizona (TPA) has been working on targeted initiatives for four years, through a program called Global Advantage, to establish a global presence. Israel is a priority area of this program. TPA is now at the point where they are able to bring fast-growing Israeli high tech companies and offer them U.S. market entry and a home at the tech parks.

“Projects that strengthen our relationship with Israel are a priority because they offer the opportunity for a strong business partnership that is beneficial to both states,” said Wright. “The Israeli companies that are growing out of that incredible startup scene are looking for market entry into the U.S.; we can provide them with that. We’re looking for companies that want to come here to create employment, share wealth and expand our economy.”


The Source of Life

Probably the most essential part of the alliance is water, something we don’t take for granted in our desert state. This December, the Global Water Summit in Arizona will bring together business leaders from the United States and Israel, along with government stakeholders and water management experts. The purpose? To find new and innovative solutions in natural resource management and public policies to address the evolving and growing need for water in the United States, Israel, and Arizona.

“Big picture is that we want to identify areas where we can make progress together,” notes Hamer.

Altogether, the new alliance is meant to develop new joint research and development (R&D) programs promoting research exchanges and information sharing in water technology. This will help our nation and our partner half a world away to support each other in stewarding the future for our natural resources.

The new initiative also secures a memorandum of understanding, a pact, between Arizona and the State of Israel focused on strengthening trade, building new partnerships, and encouraging economic and commercial support.

“The Arizona Chamber has been a strategic partner as the U.S. Chamber works to deepen the business relationship between the United States and Israel,” said Khush Choksy, senior vice president for Middle East & Turkey Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Nick Esquer

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