Plagued by the stigma of being a dormitory city, Modi'in is evaluating options that would transform it from a largely residential area into an attractive business center. The city hosted its first ever business convention Monday, designed to initiate a program to boost work opportunities for local residents by encouraging business development and attracting external organizations to the city. "Modi'in has a very high caliber, young and growing population, but is lacking in the appropriate business activities to utilize its full potential," said Ronen Appelboim, head of the business unit at Yuozma Forum, the local business initiative that organized the conference. "It's very important that we start to create the suitable business opportunities in the city." While Modi'in was established in 1996 with the idea of providing an accessible mid-point settlement between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it has grown to approximately 70,000 residents with very little business development - an outcome for which some attendees blamed the municipality. "Most people want to work near to their place of residence and the municipality should have foreseen the potential for growth in Modi'in," said one resident who has lived in the city since its inception 10 years ago. "I don't know of any other city that is not helping its citizens work and hopefully now that will change." In response, Modi'in Mayor Moshe Spector said the city expects to attract business in the future and recently has been in talks with two large corporations to establish a presence there "that could create thousands of jobs." He also noted the development of Ishpro, which includes a new strip mall, as an example showing the potential for development of Modi'in. The mall was developed with an investment by Nochi Dankner and had further investments by the Fishman Group, he said. Furthermore, he said, the Azrieli Group, which developed the Azrieli Center in Tel Aviv and the Malha Mall in Jerusalem, is in the process of developing a center in Modi'in - to open in September 2007. The mayor acknowledged, however, the city's untapped potential and the need to boost business activity. He called on government to play its part in the program. "Modi'in needs to receive its first push," he said. "It's impossible to build a city of such high standard, full of residents who do not have an accessible place to work. We need to prepare to create 30,000 jobs in the area for our residents." Eli Aflalo, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Labor, outlined the potential for joint development projects with neighboring Modi'in Elite, and encouraged the two municipalities to consider establishing an industrial park in the area. Meanwhile, Youzma's Appelboim addressed a particular need problem of women residents, many of whom don't work because they can't afford the extra time for travel out of city because of their children.