Missouri’s special bond with Israel leads to new business opportunities

Missouri, the state that was the first to recognize Israel in 1948, is now looking to strengthen its economic ties with the Jewish state. The state’s trade and investment office in Israel has been promoting Missouri as an attractive destination for Israeli companies, especially in the fields of agriculture, aerospace, and biotechnology.

Truman’s legacy

The historic relationship between Missouri and Israel dates back to May 14, 1948, when President Harry Truman, a native Missourian, announced that the United States would recognize the newly declared state of Israel. Truman made this decision only 11 minutes after Israel’s proclamation of independence, making him the first world leader to do so.

Truman’s recognition of Israel was a courageous and controversial move, as he faced opposition from some of his advisers and diplomats, who feared that it would alienate the Arab world and jeopardize American interests in the Middle East. Truman, however, was motivated by his moral conviction and his sympathy for the Jewish people, who had suffered the horrors of the Holocaust.

Missouri’s special bond with Israel leads to new business opportunities
Missouri’s special bond with Israel leads to new business opportunities

Truman’s decision was welcomed by Israel and its supporters, who saw it as a sign of friendship and solidarity. Truman later said that he considered his recognition of Israel as one of his proudest achievements as president.

Trade and investment

Since then, Missouri has maintained a close and cordial relationship with Israel, not only on the political and diplomatic level, but also on the economic and cultural level. In 2015, Missouri opened its trade and investment office in Israel, which is led by Elysa Rapoport. The office’s mission is to assist Israeli companies interested in entering the U.S. market by offering them various services and incentives, such as market research, business matchmaking, site selection, tax credits, and grants.

The office also helps Missouri companies looking to export their products and services to Israel or to establish partnerships with Israeli firms. According to Rapoport, Missouri has a lot to offer to Israeli companies, such as its central location, low cost of living and doing business, skilled workforce, strong infrastructure, and friendly business environment.

Some of the sectors that Missouri excels in are agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, cybersecurity, energy, health care, and information technology. These are also areas where Israel has a competitive edge and a global reputation for innovation and excellence. Therefore, there is a great potential for collaboration and synergy between Missouri and Israeli companies in these fields.

Delegations and success stories

One of the ways that the office promotes Missouri-Israel trade and investment is by organizing delegations of business leaders and government officials from both sides. Since 2015, the office has hosted four governor-led delegations to Israel, the most recent one being led by Republican governor Michael Parson in November 2022 (delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic).

The delegations aim to showcase Missouri’s assets and opportunities to Israeli companies and investors, as well as to learn from Israel’s best practices and success stories in various industries. The delegations also facilitate networking and relationship-building between Missouri and Israeli counterparts, which often leads to concrete deals and agreements.

Some examples of successful outcomes from these delegations are:

  • The establishment of a joint venture between Missouri-based Benson Hill Biosystems, a plant science company that uses artificial intelligence to improve crop performance, and Israel-based Equinom, a seed breeding company that uses bioinformatics to create high-protein legumes.
  • The signing of a memorandum of understanding between Missouri-based St. Louis Lambert International Airport and [Israel-based Eviation Aircraft], an electric aviation company that is developing a nine-seat commuter plane that can fly up to 650 miles on a single charge.
  • The opening of a U.S. headquarters in St. Louis by [Israel-based Atomation], an internet-of-things company that provides smart solutions for industrial assets, such as sensors, software, and cloud services.
  • The expansion of operations in Kansas City by [Israel-based Netafim], a global leader in drip irrigation systems that help farmers save water and increase yields.

Future prospects

The trade and investment office in Israel is optimistic about the future prospects of Missouri-Israel economic cooperation. Rapoport said that she expects more Israeli companies to choose Missouri as their gateway to the U.S. market, as well as more Missouri companies to explore the opportunities in Israel.

She also said that she hopes that the office will be able to host more delegations from both sides once the travel restrictions due to Covid-19 are lifted. She added that she believes that Missouri’s historic recognition of Israel has created a special bond between the two states that will continue to grow and flourish in the years to come.

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