The AmericanIsrael Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Inc. has hired Atlanta-based Rechtman Consulting Group to help its economic development initiatives in biotech and high tech to overcome setbacks due to violence in the Middle East.

The firm, which specializes in strategic planning for non-profit organizations, will work with more than 500 members to form a strategic plan for the chamber for the next three years, Tom Glaser, AICC president, told GlobalFax. It is the third such review process for the chamber, though the first to involve professional consultants, he said.

“The economy has changed dramatically and the geopolitical situation is not the same as it was three years ago,” he said.  “If we didn’t address that, we would be missing some opportunities.”

The review will include interviews with more than 50 government and business leaders and chamber members in the United States and Israel to define how the business relationship has evolved and what kind of support Israeli companies now need, he added.

The chamber’s efforts are supported by recently-arrived Israeli consul general, Shmuel Ben-Shmuel, who noted that Israel has placed particular emphasis on the Southeast as a growth region for Israeli biotech and agricultural technology companies. 

Mr. Ben-Shmuel, who has also served in posts in Houston and New York, added that the Atlanta’s pro-business atmosphere and the continued influx of employable talent provides a “huge opportunity” for Israeli firms seeking partnerships and sales here.

Mr. Glaser will travel to Israel in early November to attend a business conference and Telecomm 2002, Israel’s international technology show for the telecommunications industry. 

He will also spend a day in Yokneam, an Atlanta 2000 partnership city, and a day in Ra’anana, which became a sister city to Atlanta in 2001, to meet with Israeli biotech and high tech companies interested in setting up U.S. operations.

For additional information, contact the chamber at (404) 843-9426 or contact Mr. Glaser at