On a magical evening last week, the Arizona Commerce Authority held a standing-room-only reception to commemorate the opening of the brand-new Arizona-Israel Trade Office in Tel Aviv. The event welcomed a bipartisan delegation of 18 Arizona legislators, business leaders from Israel and other dignitaries, and a member of Israel’s Knesset.
Arizona, the Start-up-State, as Governor Ducey likes to call us, now has a home in the Start-up-Nation. In fact, Gov. Ducey was the first sitting governor in the state’s history to visit Israel. He followed up that 2015 visit with a commitment that Arizona would pass model anti-BDS (or Boycott, Divest, Sanction) legislation—a commitment he and the Legislature achieved.
State Rep. Tony Rivero, the chairman of the State and International Affairs Committee, has used his position wisely. He is the Legislature’s most consistent advocate for a greater Arizona global presence and the legislator who led the way in making the new Tel Aviv office a reality.
Arizona, which already has a significant presence in Mexico, now counts Israel as its first outpost overseas. And because of the alignment in a host of industries between Israel and Arizona, it’s a natural fit.
Arizona’s reputation as a tech sector leader is growing, and Israel is a global tech leader. While Israel’s population is only about nine million and its GDP is about equal to Arizona’s at $300 billion, its tech footprint makes it a superpower.
Over 300 major technology companies now have some sort of serious R&D presence in Israel, including Intel, the country’s largest private employer.
Only the United States and China have more companies listed on NASDAQ, 20 percent of all of the venture capital investment in cyber goes to Israeli companies, and the country can go toe-to-toe in virtually all of the hottest emerging sectors, including artificial intelligence, biotech, water, agriculture, mobility, and, of course, defense.
The reception featured thoughtful remarks from Susan Marie, the executive vice president for strategy of the ACA, who made the case as to why the new office is such a smart investment.
Remarks from Rep. Rivero and Rep. Daniel Hernandez made clear that the support for the office in Israel is deep and bipartisan.
The ACA’s person on the ground, respected Israeli business person, David Ya’ari, passionately and informatively offered the outlines of a strategy to increase trade between Arizona and Israel, which has doubled over the past decade. Special remarks were also provided by Izhar Shay, a member of the Knesset, who warmly welcomed the presence of Arizona in Tel Aviv.
Gov. Ducey, Rep. Rivero, the ACA, and the entire legislative delegation have the thanks of the Arizona business community for making this new office a priority. I am confident the bonds between Arizona and Israel—two places that value innovation and entrepreneurship—will only grow stronger.