Zeev Bielski, the mayor of Atlanta’s newest sister city, Ra’anana, Israel, was on hand last week at the Sister Cities International annual conference, held at the Hyatt Regency downtown, to sign official documentation, cementing the relationship between Atlanta and the burgeoning Israeli technology center.

To date, Ra’anana is home to Amdocs, a comprehensive technology solutions firm with an Atlanta office, and NICE Systems, a leader in multimedia digital recording solutions and services.  Houston-based Compaq Computer Corp. also has an office in Ra’anana’s high-tech district and numerous Ra’anana-based technology companies have developed a U.S. presence in the past three years.

“Ra’anana’s sister city relationship with Atlanta represents a very significant new opportunity…to work with some outstanding Israeli companies that have already made a mark in the U.S. market, as well as some promising start-ups,” said Marc Braunstein, newly-elected board chairman of Atlanta’s American-Israel Chamber of Commerce (AICC.)  “We see many benefits potentially accruing with this new relationship.”

The “sistering” was, in fact, born out of an existing relationship between North Atlanta High School and its student exchange program with Ostrovsky High School in Ra’anana, according to the Atlanta Sister City Commission.  The international business program (IBP) students at North Atlanta High operate a non-profit corporation, the Atlanta Caribbean Trading Company (ACTCo), which in turn imports Ahava Dead Sea lotions and Israeli art through the Ostrovsky Young Entrepreneurs Program.   

Now endorsed by the Consulate of Israel, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Atlanta Jewish Federation, the city link was first sponsored by Arnold Heller, IBP director at North Atlanta High School.

Atlanta’s other sister cities include Ancient Olympia, Greece; Brussels, Belgium; Bucharest, Romania; Canberra, Australia; Cotonou, Benin; Lagos, Nigeria; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Great Britain; Nuremberg, Germany; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Salcedo, Dominican Republic; Salzburg, Austria; Taegu, Korea; Tibilisi, Republic of Georgia and Toulouse, France.

For more information about Atlanta-Ra’anana Sister City Committee membership, contact Dr. Heller at (404) 351-0895 or via e-mail at aheller@mindspring.com/visit www.sister-cities.org.  For more information about business opportunities between Atlanta and Israel, contact the AICC at (404) 843-9246 or online at www.aiccse.org