Western Illinois & Eastern Iowa

Growing With Israel

On October 28th, 2014, the event "Growing With Israel - Agricultural Potential for the Quad Cities Region" was held at iWireless Center in Moline, IL. The event was sponsored by the Illinois SBDC/International Trade Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center through Black Hawk College, America-Israel Economic Forum and Catch Driver Marketing and Communications, LLC. 

The panel program was attended by approximately 30 economic development reps, business owners, agricultural land owners and managers as well as some interested community members from the area of Western Illinois and Eastern Iowa. 

The program opened with a guest appearance by U.S. Rep Cheri Bustos (IL 17), a member of the Agriculture Committee in Congress. She recounted her trip to Israel in 2013, discussed the importance of U.S.-Israel business cooperation and encouraged attendees to continue efforts to grow relationships with Israel in the Quad Cities Region. 

Michael Rosen, Executive Board member of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago and moderator, then discussed opportunities in Israel with Daniel Cohen of Israel's Trade Mission to the Midwest (Chicago). In addition to looking ahead at a possible trade mission, he also relayed efforts by the Israeli Export Institute to find partners in the U.S. market for ag-related projects. 

Rosen and Cohen also talked about the BIRD Foundation for those who seek more of a manufacturing fit. One local Quad City business is currently in discussions with BIRD based on an informational session in August 2014. 

Next, the audience heard from Shlomo Danieli via Skype from Israel. He detailed his agricultural background and how it led him to settle in Beloit, WI to further his business of cut flowers. Also, he discussed efforts in Chicago with O'Hare Airport and the city to establish a cold storage facility to encourage import and export in a 500-mile radius of the city of fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. Hosts felt there could be a tie for a similar effort in the Quad City Region based on efforts to create a Quad Cities Food Hub. 

Following lunch, Glenn Kass of Catch Driver and a local champion for America- Israel Chamber of Commerce Chicago programming in the Quad Cities Region, discussed the launch of the Quad City Region-Israel Agricultural Practice Group. 

The effort is aimed at identifying programming, investment, import-export, co-location, co-production and co-licensing projects for the region and Israel. This will begin an effort to have at least four programs in 2015 in the Quad Cities region and possibly setting a trade mission to Israel around Agritech in late April 2015. 

Next, Rosen hosted a panel with Michelle Lewis, Director of the Illinois SBDC/ITC at Black Hawk College, Greg Aguilar, Northwest Manager for Illinois DCEO and Kathy Hill, International Trade Specialist for Iowa Economic Development. 

The group presented some of the programs each state offers, talked about the education they can provide for those interested in export, and some of the characteristics of work with Israel. Lewis also introduced Patrick Hope - Director of U.S. Commercial Service with the U.S. Department of Commerce office in Rockford, IL. He gave a few brief remarks and also met with attendees. 

Aguilar discussed the IL Office of Trade and Investment which has a representative in Jerusalem and he shared the ways his office can help local businesses get to the right place to further their goals for growth. Hill was also asked to share her experience during Iowa's trade mission to Israel in June 2014. 

Following the event, attendees were able to network and the initial follow up for the event will be to identify people interested in assisting with the start of the practice group and which programs may make sense for the area. A very successful and positive first step in the process. 

Besides the hosts, promotional support came from the Quad Cities Chamber, University of Illinois Extension for Henry, Mercer, Rock Island and Stark Counties, Iowa State University/Scott County Extension, America-Israel Chamber Chicago and the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.