A new NIS 160 million fund to boost economic development among minority populations was established on Thursday. The Prime Minister's Office Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druse and Circassian Sectors, together with the Ministries of Finance and Industry, Trade and Labor, issued a tender for the private sector to share in the initiative. Aimed at upgrading existing businesses and assisting in the establishment of new ones, it is hoped the 10-year project will fully realize the sector's potential, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office said. The costs will be split equally between the state and the businesses involved. "It is becoming clear that cooperation between the government and the private sector is a continuing success that may certainly be applied to the minorities sector," Prime Minister's Office director-general Eyal Gabai said in a statement. "Both the government and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ascribe supreme economic importance to exhausting the growth potential of this sector and we intend to take a variety of measures." Accountant General Shuki Oren and the Economic Development Authority's Director Iman Saif both praised the initiative. "This is a historic moment," Saif said. "We are talking about the first time a government of Israel has proposed an initiative allowing the private sector to invest in the economic development of minorities." "This fund will truly serve to strengthen minority-run businesses," he added. The Authority for the Economic Development of the Arab, Druse and Circassian Sectors was established in February 2007.