Israeli consulate seeks investors, distributors for business forum
The Israeli consulate is creating a business forum to stimulate commerce in Greater Miami.
The Israel-Florida International Business Forum's mission is to match start-up telecommunication and biotechnology companies from the Middle Eastern country with US businesses.
"We are looking for distributors and investment partners. We want to fill a vacuum in Florida, one of the biggest economies in the world," said Assi Haim, Israel's director of economic affairs in the Miami consulate.
He said what sparked creation of the forum was a slow period in the Israeli chamber of commerce in Miami and the need to rekindle business activity.
Mr. Haim, coordinating the forum alone, said the initial plan was to attract volunteers and establish a steering committee to develop a think tank. After the steering committee is created, he said, the forum will be divided into smaller committees to "make it more effective."
The next step will be to set up joint ventures between Israeli and American companies, especially in biotechnology. In its first months, the business forum will be in the Israeli consulate, 100 N Biscayne Blvd.
"The purpose of this forum is to pursue business opportunities for Israeli companies in South Florida," said Richard Bernstein, who is with the Greenberg Traurig law firm and assists Israeli companies.
Mr. Bernstein said Israel has tremendous expertise in four areas: security, biotechnology, water-related services and agro-tech. The country already provides agro-tech knowledge to Central American nations and the Dominican Republic.
One goal of the forum, Mr. Bernstein said, is to unite business people on a quarterly basis and have networking events.
"We are still thinking of how we can make this project attractive to develop economic activity," he said. At first, we are inviting volunteers to join the steering committee."
One initial plan is to host a specific event on biotech in late September or early October, bringing 10 Israeli multinationals to Florida to showcase some of their projects.
"We want to make presentations to the Scripps Research Institute and other biotech firms in Florida," Mr. Haim said. "We hope investors are interested in hearing what these companies have to offer."
Enterprise Florida, the state's private-public partnership, is endorsing creation of the business forum.
"We have been working with 150 Israeli companies," said Fred Glickman, managing director of the international offices of Enterprise Florida, who participated in the forum's June inauguration.
"Enterprise Florida is very interested in these companies from Israel and the forum will be one of the linking vehicles," Mr. Glickman said.
The forum now is predominantly a venture between Florida and Israel. But Mr. Grossman said because of Miami's ties to Latin America, it will inevitably expand south.
Israeli consul Yitschak Ben Gad is also trying to encourage Americans to do business in Israel.
"Israel is today is talking business," he said, experiencing 4% economic growth in the past year. "The commitment of new Palestinian leader Abbas is to stop terror and this creates an atmosphere for hope. It is a very good time to invest in Israel."
Details: Assi Haim, (305) 925-9411.