The Atlanta-based American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region celebrated Israel’s 60th anniversary May 14 at an annual dinner where it also emphasized its growth as an organization.
The chamber held its annual Eagle Star Awards Dinner at Delta Air Lines Inc.’s international headquarters, where it hosted speakers from partner organizations and recognized several members for their accomplishments in 2007.
Tom Glaser, the chamber’s president, said that the organization is now the largest Israeli business group in the U.S. with almost 600 member companies in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.
He added that the Southeast is home to 75 Israeli companies’ U.S. operations and imports and exports from the region to Israel totaled about $400 million last year.
Ken Stewart, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, noted Israel’s international outlook, saying that there are more Israeli companies traded on the stock exchange than any other foreign country.
“Israel clearly is one of Georgia’s most valued partners,” he said. “International business development is what we’re about now here in Georgia, we realize that’s what we need in this global age. Israel’s known that longer than we have.”
He added that trade with Israel through Georgia’s ports rose 48 percent in 2007.
Delta’s President and CFO Ed Bastian was to give the keynote address at the event but could not attend because he was in Washington testifying before Congress about the airline’s proposed merger with Eagan, Minn.-based Northwest Airlines Corp.
Mr. Bastian delivered a video message and Lee Macenczak, Delta’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, spoke on the company’s behalf.
He said that flights to Tel Aviv, Israel, from Atlanta and new service from New York that began in March 2008 have been successful and form an important part of the company’s international strategy.
“Tel Aviv has been one of the many success stories in our transformation into a global airline,” he said.
Holly Firfer, a co-host of 11 Alive’s Atlanta & Company television program, hosted the program and Mr. Glaser and Laurence Olivier, the board’s chairman, gave the awards.
AndrÃ© Schnabel, managing partner in the Atlanta office of Grant Thornton LLP, was given the Chamber Founders Award, created in 1995 to recognize long-term service to the chamber.
The Israeli Company of the Year award was presented to electric light bulb developer and manufacturer Metrolight Inc., a Netanya, Israel-based company with operations in Franklin, Tenn. Igal Zamir, the company’s president and CEO, said that Metrolight’s six different patented bulbs use 40-65 percent less energy than traditional bulbs.
The night’s final award, the Deal of the Year award, was given to Herzliya, Israel-based Verint Systems Inc. for its $950 million acquisition of Atlanta-based Witness Systems, a business oversight and management software provider.