With all the bad economic news that we have seen resulting from the impact of COVID-19 it’s important to highlight good news when that surfaces as well. While the United States, like all economies, has been negatively affected by the virus, the upbeat tradition of American business shows through in some specific examples that should encourage everyone regarding the future after Covid.
This week, for example, executives from a number of regional economic development agencies (EDOs) there will be meeting with Israeli companies to talk about assisting in the development of the US market for those companies. The local EDOs, smaller and more flexible than similar state government agencies, are aggressively planning for the future and know that Israel’s tech sector continues to hold great promise for creating new jobs in the US.
Representatives of areas as diverse as Atlanta (Georgia) Yuma (Arizona), Keysville (Virginia), Wichita (Kansas), Portland (Oregon) and Omaha (Nebraska) will meet one-on-one, via zoom, with six Israeli companies considering expanding their US operations. While one would think that during this “down” economic period Israeli companies would be scaling back their expansion plans, actually the reverse is true and the Americans are happy to meet with them and discuss mutually beneficial options.
In a different, but equally positive vein, the City of Cedar Park, Texas (a suburb of Austin) has recently set out plans to build 400,000 square feet (37,161 square meters) of new office space even though they have not yet identified tenants for the facility. The designated purpose of the tract is economic development – specifically the expansion of employment opportunities, job creation/retention and related investment in Cedar Park. They believe that doing so will help expand and diversify the city’s tax base by actively recruiting new employers. Of course, one way to recruit employers is by making land conducive for development available to those potential employers.
Cedar Park is one of nine regional EDOs with representation in Israel along with 14 US states that also maintain contract representatives here. These 23 entities form an economic bridge between Israel and the US to encourage the continued growth of bi-lateral trade and investment.
Few people know, for example, that Israel consistently ranks among the 20 largest sources of foreign direct investment into the US with companies like TEVA, Strauss Group, Elbit and many others maintaining large operations there. There are no definitive figures for the number of jobs created by Israeli companies in the US but a recent study of the effect of Israel’s activities in Massachusetts alone indicates that Israeli activity is responsible for adding over $3b a year to the state’s economy.
While there is a lot of “noise” about the rapprochement between Israel and the Arab world, all of which is good, the fact remains that the US market remains a destination of choice for Israeli market pentation, and will remain so for some time to come. Hopefully, the incoming administration there will continue to see international trade and investment as the critical engine of economic growth that it has always been.