Some 20 years after Georgia and Jerusalem initiated joint economic development ties, US Governor Nathan Deal and members of his state’s trade delegation joined Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in the capital Sunday to celebrate their mutually beneficial partnership.
During a large luncheon for Deal’s delegation, at a rooftop restaurant in the Old City’s Christian Quarter, both leaders toasted their ongoing and growing business dealings.
“We’re both scaling in film production, health services and hi-tech, so we’re sharing notes on how to make 1 + 1 = 3,” said Barkat. “The visit of the governor to our city reflects how Jerusalem is developing.”
According to Barkat, the primary benefits for the capital generated by the partnership includes an uptick in tourism and ongoing investment in the city’s hi-tech and bioresearch sectors – which represent a third of the nation’s total industry.
There are 40 Israeli-based businesses in Georgia, ranging from hi-tech to quartz countertop production.
The economically booming state has similar partnerships in 10 other countries, including Germany, China, Japan, Britain, South Korea, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Canada.
“The best way to describe our future is to go back 3,000 years,” Barkat said, as he pointed to the Temple Mount. “For thousands of years this was the center of the world… And our DNA of welcoming everyone is second to none.”
The mayor continued: “By coming here, we’re showing the governor that Jerusalem is open for tourism and business.”
Presently, the global software services company Amdocs is the largest Israeli-based firm in Georgia, providing over 600 jobs to Deal’s constituents.
Another notable Israeli business located in Georgia is Caesarstone, which custom-builds quartz countertops and other surfaces.
The company is slated to build a second factory in the state in the coming months.
“This is the 20th year that Georgia has had a trade relationship with Israel, which has been proven to be successful for both sides,” Deal said.
Noting that Savannah has ports that regularly receive shipments of goods from Haifa and Ashdod, Deal said his state’s robust hi-tech, health services and bioscience sectors has made the relationship a logical fit.
“Like Israel, we are a leader in software and IT services, as well as tourism,” the governor said, noting that Georgia has also successfully become a major hub for film production – which now generates $4 billion for its annual revenue.
Apart from the two regions’ successful trade and investment partnership, Barkat said US tourism to the capital was a major advantage to doing business in Georgia.
“We’re very happy about the governor’s interest in Jerusalem and the trade delegation’s mission,” he said. “One of our goals is to develop Jerusalem as an interesting, spiritual and exciting place for the world to visit.”
Noting that the Hebrew University in Jerusalem is one of the world’s top 10 genetic research institutions – and that Israel has become the number one investment opportunity, per capita, for venture capital internationally – Barkat made it clear that the capital is indeed “open for business.”
“The relationship between Israel and the USA is a strategic one,” he said. “We share values and understand opportunity. I believe that if we look into the future, we will do more business together and expand the common denominator between us.”