Arizona is planning to establish a trade office in Israel. The state budget for fiscal year 2020, which is $11.8 billion, includes $275,000 for the project in its first year. $100,000 would be to set up the trade office, and $175,000 to be spent to run it each year.
The CEO and president of the Arizona Israel Technology Alliance, Leib Bolel, has been calling for the office since the nonprofit was founded. Bolel launched the nonprofit in 2018 to attract Israeli companies to the state, and, since then, 100 companies have put down roots in Arizona. The group wants to attract companies to the state because the country is filled with venture capital, startups, scientists, and tech professionals.
“It’s unprecedented, and it means there’s an additional resource from a state level,” said Bolel. “The state has recognized the potential Arizona and Israel have been able to accomplish over the last couple of years. We’re just really excited.”
State Representative Tony Rivero supported the move to include funding for the office in Israel, and he wants to expand the trade presence in Mexico. “Israel’s new trade office is a major victory for Arizona,” Rivero said in a statement. “This development not only helps reinforce Arizona’s reputation as a business-friendly state, but it also provides Arizona and Israeli companies with an additional avenue to succeed in the global marketplace.”
The Arizona Commerce Authority will oversee the Israeli office. The ACA’s president and CEO, Sandra Watson, believes Arizona and Israel are global leaders. She says they share strengths in innovation, research, development, entrepreneurship, aerospace and defense, and water technology. “Since taking office in 2015, Gov. [Doug] Ducey has worked to strengthen this relationship as the first Arizona governor to travel to Israel,” Watson said. “Since, under his direction, the ACA has advanced the relationship and increased investment opportunities… Our new trade office in Israel will further enhance cross-border collaboration and we look forward to opening it in the coming months.”
Glenn Hamer, the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is supportive of the efforts of building the trade office. He believes the move will strengthen the state’s tech sector. “If you’re in the tech business, you have to have a relationship with Israel,” said Hamer, who has visited Israel 13 times during the past 30 years. “There’s going to be a big payoff for the state of Arizona. I suspect the synergies with the startup state [Arizona] and the startup nation [Israel] to be really good.”
The Arizona Technology Council praised the funding of the new office and the state representatives working with the Arizona Israel Tech Alliance to help make the trade office a reality. “Our partnership with AITA has helped both Arizona and Israel solidify their global presence in the technology community,” said Steve Zylstra, the president and CEO of the AZ Tech Council, in a statement. “The passing of this legislation represents another step forward in establishing Arizona and Israel as influential leaders in innovation.”