US sells itself to Israeli firms via investment program

US sells itself to Israeli firms via investment program

Ambassador Dan Shapiro will lead 20 companies from Israel to SelectUSA’s summit

President Obama speaks at the 2013 SelectUSA Summit (Photo credit: US Dept of Commerce)
President Obama speaks at the 2013 SelectUSA Summit (Photo credit: US Dept of Commerce)

Nobody needs to sell Israeli companies on the idea of doing business in the United States, but the road to the New World is often riddled with roadblocks that not every entrepreneur can successfully navigate. To help them, the US Department of Commerce sponsors the SelectUSA program, which provides information, contacts, and troubleshooting help to enable more foreign companies to do business in the US.

In several weeks, SelectUSA will be holding its third summit, which will see over 2,500 participants, including investors from more than 72 countries, gather in Washington to discuss opportunities available in the US. An Israeli delegation consisting of up to 20 Israeli companies will be participating as well, with the delegation led by US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

“This summit is a chance for some great Israeli companies to find their market in the United States, grow their business, and expand trade between the US and Israel,” said Shapiro. “I strongly encourage more Israeli companies to join me on this delegation and take advantage of this unique opportunity. Israeli investors have contributed significantly to the American economy, helping make the US the most attractive destination for investment.”

Though it’s a federal program, SelectUSA works with state agencies throughout the US to find the right geographical and ecosystem match for non-US firms seeking to do business in the States, said Sigal Mendelovich, a Commercial Specialist at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv.

“Many states have their own investment programs aimed at foreign companies, but not all do, and in fact, despite the many American delegations that come to Israel seeking business, only ten states actually have programs to recruit Israeli firms,” she said. “We believe that there is opportunity all through the US, and we are here to help companies find the best fit for their products, services, and needs.”

In a sense, US states “compete” with each other for Israeli start-ups – and the US is in competition with countries from Europe and Asia, which also want Israeli firms to set up shop in their jurisdictions.

“Of course, there are many places where Israeli companies can do business, but no one has to convince them the importance of doing business in the US,” said Mendelovich. “In the same vein, we don’t see the states as competing with each other, because there is plenty of opportunity for all. Some industries will fit in better in certain states, and we cast a wide net, so we can find companies that will be a good fit for many different locations.”

Many of the Israeli companies opening up in the US nowadays are tech companies, and naturally they tend to gravitate to places like New York, Boston, and Silicon Valley. But there may be better opportunities for them elsewhere, said Mendelovich, and SelectUSA will help them find those opportunities.

“Israel is very important to this program,” she said. “In 2013, Israel was the 18th biggest foreign investor in the US, and we value Israel’s business greatly.”

Maria Andrews, the US Embassy’s Commercial Counselor in Israel, said that her department “is very excited about the Israeli delegation attending the summit. We know how beneficial it can be for the companies to explore a number of potential US locations in the space of two days, all in one place. We will continue to work with the companies after the Summit to help them reach their goals, connecting them with economic development officials in the different states.”

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