Ynet: South Carolina business leaders tour Israel

November 27, 2011

Group of 26 top-level executives, academic researchers visit Jewish state to promote partnerships


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Published: 11.27.11, 08:44 / Israel Business

While much of the United States is mired in the effects of the economic downturn, the state of South Carolina has been successfully attracting billions of dollars of foreign investment in recent years – and hopes to substantially increase business and research cooperation with Israeli corporations and universities.

This proactive approach is being carried out by a group of 26 top-level executives and academic researchers who were inIsrael promoting the work of the South Carolina–Israel Collaboration.

An initiative of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Southeast Region, the delegation met with top Israeli companies and universities with the specific goal of integrating Israeli innovation to benefit the local South Carolina business and academic environments.

Mission organizers say that in 2010, South Carolina brought in an excess of $4 billion in investment from foreign countries.

Due to its location on the Eastern seaboard and with incentives for corporations such as lower electricity rates and an overall pro-business position, South Carolina has become the new home for numerous large multinational corporations in recent years.

Jonathan Zucker, chairman of the South Carolina–Israel Collaboration and President of the InterTech Group, said that both Boeing and BMW have opened massive manufacturing facilities in the state, resulting in the creation of well over 10,000 new jobs.

The Boeing opening makes South Carolina only the third location in the world, outside of Boeing’s main facility in Washington and Airbus’ home in Toulouse, France, that can deliver wide-body aircraft.

Zucker, whose father Jerry was Israeli-born, says that despite the State having a relatively small Jewish community, Zionism is an aspect of what drives his personal ambition to make this collaboration successful.

“I firmly believe that tikkun olam helps motivate our desire to promote an economic partnership with Israel,” he said.

Jerry Zucker, who died in 2008, had built up a multi-billion dollar holding company in South Carolina but always worked to promote business between Israel and his adopted home-state. Jonathan welcomed the chance to embrace this collaboration in large part as a tribute to his father’s memory.

Win-win for all

In a session held at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange attended by the Exchange’s CEO Ester Levanon and executives from leading Israeli companies, Zucker saluted the Israeli character as a “startup nation” for what makes it stand out as a potential business partner.

“We want to be a part of the innovation and methodology that Israel brings to the table,” he said. “There is no disputing that Israel is a leader in these important aspects of successful business and South Carolina welcomes the chance to embrace this reality.”

The mission, which took place over the course of close to a week, introduced the delegates to many leading research institutions including visits to Hadassah Medical Center, the Weizmann Institute and Ben-Gurion and Tel Aviv universities.

Members of the delegation were selected from six main clusters; Bio-med, Sustainable Systems, Defense and Security, Insurance/Health, Transportation and Advanced Materials.

Tom Glaser, who as president of the Southeast Region of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce was the main force behind organizing the delegation, said that the benefits of promoting trade between Israel and South Carolina are a win-win for all.

“The focus of this delegation is not just about helping Israeli companies, but rather how can we bring Israel into the picture to have a synergistic and beneficial economic and research impact on South Carolina,” he said.

“As we develop research and business relationships between South Carolina and Israel, we expect that Israeli companies will be attracted to South Carolina as the logical place to establish regional or US operations.

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