While Israel weathered rocket attacks and sent tanks into the Gaza Strip in response, the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta continued business as usual, recruiting companies here.
“The activity was as robust as it has ever been,” said Tom Glaser, the chamber’s Southeast regional president. “Our business with Israel did not change at all.”
The business impact of the fighting between Israel and Hamas was largely localized, said Mr. Glaser.
“Certainly within Israel where rockets were hitting cities, there was impact on businesses that provide services to local people,” he said.
But the chamber is working with international companies based in Israel, many in the health care and technology fields, that were not disrupted.
Even as the fighting raged, the chamber announced in its newsletter that a company founded in Israel, GreenRoad Technologies Inc., has opened its eastern U.S. sales headquarters in metro Atlanta. GreenRoad works with businesses to improve the safety of their corporate fleets by installing sensors in vehicles that monitor speed, braking and other factors. GreenRoad has joined the chamber and company representatives have met with prospective clients among chamber members.
In December, just a few weeks before the fighting started, Mr. Glaser led a delegation from Georgia on a trade mission to Israel. The group included John Oxendine, Georgia’s insurance and fire safety commissioner and representatives from Georgia Power.
The chamber delegation met with representatives from Israeli companies in the water, telecommunications, medical devices, energy and software fields.
“Many of them were excellent prospects,” Mr. Glaser said. “Some of them have already committed to coming to the United States and are seriously looking at coming to Atlanta.”
One meeting was with executives of Benchmark Israel Venture Capital Ltd., one of the investors in GreenRoad.
“Most Israeli companies see the U.S. as a strong potential market,” said Mr. Glaser.
“If they are really serious about getting into the U.S. market, by necessity, they have to open some kind of organization in the United States,” he said.
Atlanta’s advantages include daily nonstop flights to Tel Aviv and the lower cost of doing business here compared to cities like New York and Boston, said Mr. Glaser.
He added that Israel is also a good place for Georgia companies seeking to invest abroad.
“Israel is a very westernized, modern country,” he said. “They are very used to doing business with Americans. America is their largest trading partner.”
Interested companies should contact the chamber and perhaps sign up for the organization’s next trade mission to Israel, which will probably be in the fall, Mr. Glaser advised.
“It does help to have guidance from an organization like ours that has been doing this kind of thing for over 15 years,” said Mr. Glaser. “We have a staff person on the ground in Israel. We have experienced people here and lots of friends in Israel who can help guide them to the right people.”
For companies in the health care field, the chamber will hold a networking conference between U.S. and Israeli companies Feb. 24-25 at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia headquarters, 3350 Peachtree Rd. The conference will be on telehealth technology that allows doctors to monitor the health of patients remotely.
Mr. Oxendine, who worked on recruitment of telehealth companies during the December trade mission, is the honorary chairman of the conference. Former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be the keynote speaker on Feb. 25.
For more information, call Mr. Glaser at (404)-843-9426 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.