Mayor to lead trade mission to Israel

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San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg will lead a trade mission to Israel by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the San Antonio Jewish Federation. (Photo/ Kristian Jaime)

Joined by business and community leaders, Mayor Ron Nirenberg will lead a trade and cultural mission to Israel beginning Oct. 21 that will deepen relationships with local leaders.

Also on the agenda, the City of San Antonio aims to align economic development opportunities in targeted industries and strengthen cultural and educational ties between the two countries.

Organized by the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, the trip will include meetings with local government leaders and business executives and focus on cyber security, healthcare, bio sciences, entrepreneurship and startups.

“There is broad recognition in international business and diplomatic circles that economic partnerships don’t just happen,” Mayor Nirenberg said. “They require lots of work and relationship building that happens on trade missions just like this.”

Israel is a targeted country in the city’s 2015 trade and investment strategy, which was developed through the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities Initiative (GCI). A joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, the initiative is designed to help metropolitan leaders grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness.

The delegation, which includes local business representatives such as president and CEO of the Texas Research and Technology Foundation and chairman of the innovation hub VelocityTX, will meet with a number of different tech, venture and bioscience firms, including the cyber security think tank and startup accelerator Team8.

The trade mission will include more than 20 business and community leaders participating in visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A key objective of the trade mission will be to foster existing trade and investment opportunities for San Antonio businesses, while developing strong relationships and partnerships with Israeli businesses.

“Last year, San Antonio companies exported billions of products overseas as more businesses recognized the importance of being a part of the global economy,” said Ramiro Cavazos, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber and Commerce President and CEO.“This trade mission provides an outstanding opportunity for San Antonio companies to conduct in-person meetings with potential business partners and to develop key relationships that can lead to additional international sales and new Texas investments.”

District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño will also take part in the trip and will take over as head of the delegation when the Mayor departs to Darmstadt, Germany on Oct. 25. Several meetings will focus on innovation, entrepreneurship and startup best practices, including a meeting with JANVEST Capital Partners, a U.S.-based venture firm that focuses on cyber security, e-commerce and telecommunications.

“Venture capital investment is the lifeblood of many successful startup firms,” Councilman Treviño (D1) said. “As San Antonio’s tech sector matures, this trade mission will provide valuable insight into how we as a city can better incubate emerging companies and attract more venture capital.”

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The San Antonio Missions along the historic San Antonio Missions Trail was recently named as a UNESCO World Heritage location. (Photo/ Kristian Jaime)

The trip will also include a tour through a UNESCO World Heritage-designated section of Old Jerusalem, which will provide valuable information about how San Antonio can protect and promote its own historical landmarks like the Alamo. Diplomatic and cultural meetings are also scheduled, including a guided tour of Yad Vashem.

Mayor Nirenberg is committed to building on the Friendship City Agreement that the City of San Antonio signed with Tel Aviv in 2011, noting the importance of fortifying diplomatic relationships in an increasingly globalized world. The trip provides a rare opportunity to cultivate economic, cultural and educational connections with a diverse group of leaders from one of the world’s most dynamic cities as the City of San Antonio prepares to celebrate its 300th anniversary.

“In addition to being an amazingly rich cultural experience, Israel is an incredible place of innovation and development in many fields,” said Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. “There is a high tolerance for risk in Israeli society and the Israeli psyche, which fosters a fertile environment for new ideas and strategies in all industries. There is a lot for us to learn from the Israeli innovations sector.”


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