Michigan governor hopes Waze will reroute to his state

Former Gateway CEO: "We can be the gateway to America for Israeli companies."

June 19, 2013 23:34
2 minute read.
Waze navigation application

Waze navigation application 370. (photo credit: Courtesy Waze)


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Michigan is the automobile manufacturing hub of the world. So if Google relocates recently purchased Israeli firm Waze to the US, why not to the search company’s R&D facility in the state instead of its headquarters in Silicon Valley? That is a question Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked this week on a visit to GPS-based navigational app company Waze’s headquarters in Ra’anana that he described as one of the highlights of his nine-day trade mission to Israel. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post at the King David Hotel, Snyder said he would speak to Google officials about Waze when he returns to Michigan.

“That is a company we hope will set up shop in Michigan,” Snyder said.

“Google has a major site in Ann Arbor and therefore we hope they will look to Michigan as the place to go. It’s their decision, but we want to make sure to present the business case why Michigan is the best place for them to be.”

Snyder said he came to Israel to deepen an already strong bond between Michigan and the Jewish state.

Michigan was one of the top states in imports and exports with Israel, he said.

“We can strengthen our ties by doing more business, social services and cultural ties,” said Snyder who entered politics recently from the business world. “I have been watching Israeli technological innovation and entrepreneurship for 20 years. I saw how the culture here encourages taking risks and made it into a positive.”

Snyder has been credited with helping turn around the economy in Michigan, which was last in America in key economic indicators before he took over in 2010. He said he hopes to draft Israeli companies to Michigan to help him build his state’s economy.

“We can be the gateway to America for Israeli companies, said Snyder, who is the former CEO of the Gateway computer company. “We have a Michigan-Israel business bridge. Israel has a hitech economy but a limited market of 8 million people. The US is a natural market and cultural ties with the Jewish community and great business community make Michigan a good place for Israeli start-ups.”

Asked what Michigan could teach Israel, Snyder said the state could be a model for how to reinvent an economy, create an environment for success, and create a global economy. Regarding the failure of Better Place, Israel’s entry in the automotive industry, he said electric cars and other innovations have a longer adoption curve, because there are people who are reluctant to change.

Snyder met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, with whom he bonded as a fellow former hi-tech entrepreneur who shifted to politics. Unlike Israeli politicians, Snyder said he sees no point in political attacks, so even though he is a Republican, he had nothing to say about the policies of Democrat US President Barack Obama.

“I don’t believe in criticizing or blaming,” he said. “I view the president and other leaders as my partners. We’re all in customer service and my citizens are my customers.”

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