Partnership Between Israel and the American South: From Mere Acquaintances to Best Friends

Guest post by John Scannapieco, International Business Council board member and co-chair of Baker Donelson's global business team

Israel is the "startup nation." The country’s strong entrepreneurial spirit and focus on innovation have led to its rise in the global economy and its predominance in the Middle East. The economic emergence of the American South shares similar attributes to Israel; these states are fast becoming the economic engine for the United States. As Israel and the American South continue to grow, businesses have been looking to form new partnerships and expand trade and investment opportunities between the two regions. These relationships could become invaluable, especially in the event of a crisis.

So where do Israeli companies usually look? They look in Boston, New York and Silicon Valley. Businesses in the American South routinely look to Europe and Asia. Based on my work with global companies, I know how often Israeli companies overlook the American South and, similarly, how U.S. companies often overlook Israel. Yet, each state in the South tells a unique story of economic growth and global opportunity that often goes unnoticed in international circles, but fits Israel’s growth trajectory well. For example, Georgia is home to many global corporations and research institutions in technology and cybersecurity, industry sectors in which Israel leads the world. Tennessee is a global hub for innovative health care, logistics and advanced manufacturing. Louisiana and Texas provide access to the Gulf of Mexico and affordable energy as a result of their large oil and gas deposits and shipping terminals. Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are leaders in advanced aerospace production. Officials and corporate leaders in the South boast of significant achievements in advanced, value-added industry sectors, including cyber-technology, software development, communications, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology, to name just a few.

So, I wondered:

“Can we create a platform that would facilitate increased communication and collaboration between Israeli and U.S. businesses, leading to increased trade and investment in both Israel and the American South?"


“Where do we begin?”

Identifying similarities in our economies and common objectives for cooperation have been eye-opening. At the core, advanced manufacturing, logistics, energy, health care and technology, are driving growth in both regions. This formed the foundation for the platform. The ever-increasing number of cyber attacks on governments and businesses alike and their significant impact on virtually all industry sectors marked the starting point – cybersecurity and cyber-technology.

To facilitate increased trade and investment between Israel and the American South, the Israel and the American South Initiative was born. This initiative brings together leaders in business, government, and higher education and provides a platform for the participants to discover new partners, develop business and engage in a meaningful discussion to promote an environment that facilitates increased bilateral trade and investment between the two regions.

Our first forum is the Cybersecurity Forum on Aug. 20 and 21 at Georgia Tech, a leading educational and research institution with a major focus on cybersecurity and cyber-technology.

To be a participant and get engaged in this initiative, register online here.

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