The Sunday night dinner in Tel Aviv where members of the 17-person New Jersey delegation met with key business and government leaders from Israel was more than just a kickoff to the delegation’s five-day trip in the country.
The event signaled that New Jersey was keeping the promise Gov. Phil Murphy made to make an annual visit to a country that not only has close cultural ties with the state, but also has a $1.3 billion bilateral trade partnership.
More importantly, Choose New Jersey CEO Jose Lozano said the trip shows just how much New Jersey values the relationship: New Jersey is the only state that sent a delegation this year.
“The governor has made it clear that this relationship is very important to the state and it’s easy to see why,” Lozano said. “We are both relatively similar in geographic size and population, and both outpunch our weight. You can say we are both relatively small, but definitely mighty.”
The cultural ties are well-known: New Jersey is home to the fourth-largest Israel-born population and the fourth-largest population of Israeli ancestry in the U.S.
Lozano, his Choose New Jersey colleagues and a delegation that features a number of representatives from higher education — including Rutgers University President Jonathan Hollaway and New Jersey City University President Sue Henderson — will use this week to grow the connections.
Lozano feels it’s an easy sell.
In addition to the ease of access to the state — Newark Liberty International Airport has three nonstop daily flights to Tel Aviv — Lozano said Israeli businesses in New Jersey have been able to enjoy proximity to New York City at half the cost and with more room to grow.
“New Jersey’s innovation ecosystem, with a high density of early-stage and established life sciences and technology companies, has attracted Israeli companies looking to be part of a thriving business community,” he said.
Andrew Gross, the executive director of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, said he feels much can be accomplished during the week.
“I see a very bright future,” he said. “I think New Jersey will continue to be No. 1 in leveraging these relationships and partnerships.”
Below is a list of the 17-member delegation, listed alphabetically:
- Daniel Davidow, senior adviser for economic development, Governor’s Office;
- Karin Elkis, co-chair of NJ-Israel Commission, senior vice president, Optimus Partners;
- Ryan Fox, business development officer, Choose New Jersey;
- Adrian Franco, executive director, Guarini Institute of International Education and Economic Mobility, New Jersey City University;
- Andrew Gross, executive director, NJ-Israel Commission;
- Sue Henderson, president, New Jersey City University;
- Jonathan Holloway, president, Rutgers University;
- Mark Levenson, co-chair of NJ-Israel Commission, vice chair, real estate practice, Sills Cummis & Gross;
- Jose Lozano, CEO, Choose New Jersey;
- Nicole Mahon, event manager, Choose New Jersey;
- Bernard McSherry, dean, school of business, New Jersey City University;
- Bill Noonan, business development director, Choose New Jersey;
- Simon Nynens, CEO, New Jersey Innovation Institute, New Jersey Institute of Technology;
- Danielle Rexrode, marketing coordinator, Choose New Jersey;
- Catherine Scangarella, chief business development officer, Choose New Jersey;
- Vince Smeraglia, executive director of strategic alliances, Rutgers University;
- Ido Zairi, CEO, Israel Biotech Fund.