THE TEL AVIV skyline.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who wrapped up his second visit to Israel on Monday, hopes to woo Israeli companies to set up shop in the city of brotherly love.
“I know we’re in the start-up nation, but we started a nation in the city of Philadelphia,” Nutter said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post in Tel Aviv Monday, ahead of a roundtable on the topic hosted by law firm Greenberg Traurig.
“These types of trips are critically important to the overall growth of our city, expanding markets for Israel and creating opportunities for Philadelphia,” the mayor added, a hamsa dangling on a red string around his wrist.
During several days of meetings with start-ups, accelerators and tech companies, Nutter sought to strengthen ties, including looking for Israeli technology that could be useful to his city.
The municipality already is preparing to launch the Israeli parking-payment app Pango to help motorists easily and efficiently pay for parking, and Nutter said he encountered dozens of companies with similarly appealing technologies and that he hoped to follow up with them.
The other goal of the trip was to encourage growing Israeli companies to set up shop in Philadelphia, where a delegation of Israeli technologists visited last year led by Chemi Peres, co-founder of Israel’s largest VC, Pitango, and son of former president Shimon Peres.
The city, says Nutter, is not trying to imitate New York, Silicon Valley or Boston, but compete with its own advantages.
“We’re not trying to be any of them because we’re Philadelphia, and we think we have a story to tell that hasn’t been told,” he said.
Philadelphia, the 5th largest US city, sits between the country’s financial capital, New York City, and its political one, Washington, DC.
Though its economic growth hasn’t hit full force since the recession, the city has been attracting youth and its universities and medical schools produce a lot of talent.
Furthermore, the cost of living is lower in Philadelphia, and thus the cost of hiring workers, buying and renting real estate and other business costs are lower, too.
Nutter’s relationship with Israel extends beyond business. In January, he officiated at the wedding of Israel’s deputy consul general to the mid-Atlantic region Elad Strohmayer to his husband Oren Ben-Yosef; the proposal took place during the Peres trip.
Nutter, who will reach his term limit in November after eight years in office, said he hopes to follow-up with Israeli businesses and strengthen the relationship once he’s back in the US.
“There is so much innovation taking place here,” he said.