When Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal travels abroad, you can usually bet that he’s carrying an investment announcement in his back pocket.
This week’s four-city trip to Israel was no disappointment, with the governor releasing the news upon the completion of his trip today that a fertilizer manufacturer is to invest $12 million to build a plant in Savannah. Haifa Group supplies controlled release fertilizer, including plant nutrients and specialty phosphates.
That investment is to bring 20 jobs to the state, but the potentially bigger news is that a payments software firm could put a hub office in Atlanta, hiring 100 people by 2018, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which sent a reporter on the trip.
Herzliya, Israel-based Credorax had planned to beef up its Boston office until its leaders found out about recent legislation that allows payment processors to get banking licenses in Georgia, the AJC reported. Company officials told Mr. Deal during a visit to their headquarters that they plan to open in Atlanta in 2015 if their application is approved as expected, hiring 50 people initially and ramping up to 100 by 2018.
The two planned investments come at an auspicious moment for Georgia’s economic relationship with Israel. Long a source of software, biotechnology and medical-device firms looking to set up sales operations or raise capital in the U.S., Israel has now proven to be a bona fide source of manufacturing investments.
In November, Caesarea-based Caesarstone Sdot Yam Ltd. said it would put an engineered quartz products factory in coastal Georgia, investing $70 million initially with the potential to grow to $100 million and 180 jobs.
Just two weeks ago at its annual awards gala, the Atlanta-based American Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region, rebranded to America Israel Business Connector, shortened as conexx, to reflect its role in connecting companies for investment purposes.
Mr. Deal presided over a seminar highlighting Georgia as a “destination for global success,” doling out awards to existing investors. E.G.M. Investments Ltd. received the Georgia Trade Champion award, while the Peach Investor award was presented to Verint Systems, a software firm that entered Georgia by acquiring Witness Systems for $950 million in 2007, growing steadily ever since.
The Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce received the Strategic Georgia Partner award, for which finalists included Hewlett-Packard, Jacada Inc., AMDOCS, conexx: America Israel Business Connector (formerly known as American-Israel Chamber of Commerce) and Mussafi & Sons.
Mr. Deal’s delegation ended the trip with a stop at United Parcel Service Inc., where he celebrated the company’s 20-year history in the country with a commendation and highlighted Georgia’s trade successes.
Total trade with Israel was up 46 percent in 2013, partially thanks to the federally funded Georgia Reaching Out Worldwide program, or G.R.O.W., which matches Georgia firms with inbound buyers from other countries. For the past three years, 140 Georgia companies have met with 10 Israeli buyers, resulting in a $4 million sale of Georgia pecans and peanuts with more deals expected soon.
The delegation visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Caesarea, Herzliya and Ra’anana, a sister city of Atlanta.
Note: Global Atlanta is planning to launch an Israel page of its website and a monthly newsletter highlighting the state’s ties with the country. Stay tuned for more.