The Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce hosted a visit Tuesday by Opher Aviran, consulate general of Israel to the Southeast. South Carolina and Israel have recently undertaken an effort to increase business and academic collaborations between the Palmetto State and the nation of Israel.
The meeting included Ike McLeese, Columbia Chamber president and CEO; Mike Brenan, S.C. president for BB&T and chairman of the Columbia Chamber; Don Herriot, executive director of Innovista Partnerships; Joel Stevenson, executive director of the USC- Columbia Technology Incubator; Clark Thompson, S.C Department of Commerce; Bill Mahoney, CEO of the S.C. Research Authority; John Mikula, Columbia Chamber senior vice president for existing business retention and expansion; and C. Grant Jackson, Columbia Chamber senior vice president for community development. Shelly Castaldi, director of academic and cultural affairs for the consulate general, also attended.
Aviran, who is headquartered in Atlanta, covers six Southeastern states for the Israeli government.
Many states and cities are actively courting business and research relationships with Israel. These partnerships bring solid university and industry assets, including the Centers of Economic Excellence. South Carolina has the potential to capitalize on building a strong and productive relationship with Israel that will benefit the state’s economy.
South Carolina is a “great partner” for Israel, Aviran said, and he urged South Carolina to undertake a trade mission to Israel. Such an effort would have the backing of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Brenan said.
Six clusters – Biomedical, Materials, Sustainable Systems, Transportation, Defense and Homeland Security, and Insurance and Health Information Technology – have been targeted for their potential in both the private and university sectors. These clusters are being mapped for both South Carolina and Israel.
Partners in the collaboration to date include the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Clemson University, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, University of South Carolina, SCRA, New Carolina, the Consulate General of Israel, The InterTech Group and Israel Economic Mission. A working group meets every two weeks.
The collaboration hopes to increase the number of S.C. companies doing business in Israel and the number of Israeli companies establishing new operations in South Carolina, increase the number of joint ventures, as well as urge Israeli and S.C. researchers to work together on scientific projects.