Gov. Nathan Deal is wrapping up a five-day mission to Israel that included a delegation of state of Georgia officials and business leaders.
The delegation visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Herzliya and Atlanta’s sister city of Ra’anana. Deal met with prominent members of government, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the mayor of Jerusalem, to explore business and trade opportunities.
The delegation also met with companies that already have invested in Georgia or are considering establishing a presence in the state.
“Israel is a vital partner in friendship and in our economic-development efforts,” Deal said. “We are here to bolster our ties as we celebrate Georgia’s 20th year in the Israeli market and our long-standing commitment to the country.”
During the mission, Deal announced that Israel-based Haifa Group will build a new controlled-release-fertilizer manufacturing facility in Savannah. Haifa is a leading global supplier of potassium nitrate, specialty plant nutrients and food phosphates, which help the agriculture industry. A $12 million investment, the new plant will create nearly 20 jobs.
“This new plant serves as a testament to the strength of Georgia’s advanced agriculture-technology industry,” the governor said. “We fully expect that this new production facility will help establish our state as a center of advanced fertilizer technology, with farmers, nursery owners and professional turf experts across the country asking for our products.”
While in Israel, the Georgia delegation also recognized several outstanding Israeli companies for their respective partnerships with the state at the “Georgia: Destination for Global Success” seminar. UPS was recognized for 20 years of service in economic development in Georgia. The Georgia Trade Champion award was presented to E.G.M. Investments Ltd.; the Peach Investor award was presented to Verint Systems; and the Strategic Georgia Partner Award was presented to the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC). Award finalists included Hewlett-Packard, Jacada Inc., AMDOCS, Conexx: America Israel Business Connector (formerly known as American-Israel Chamber of Commerce) and Mussafi and Sons.
During a luncheon, Deal announced that from 2012 to 2013, imports from Israel to Georgia increased by 71 percent and total trade increased by 46 percent.
Since 1994, Israel and Georgia have had a long-established partnership through government, friendship, business, international trade, tourism and a variety of other avenues. Georgia ranked as the leading state in the Southeastern United States and eighth in the nation in terms of total trade with Israel in 2013. Israel is the leading Middle Eastern investor nation in Georgia. Delta Air Lines offers multiple daily flights from Atlanta to Tel Aviv via New York and Amsterdam. The Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah also has an established relationship with Israel, offering two weekly shipping services to the Port of Haifa and one to the Port of Ashdod.
“Georgia has a unique advantage with the Israeli Consulate General based in Atlanta and organizations like Conexx: America Israel Business Connector,” said Chris Carr, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. “These partners of ours, which work actively to promote a stronger relationship, provide key connections and demonstrate goodwill between our state and Israel.”
The mission aims to continue building on the relationships in Israel and to make new connections facilitating economic development and trade.