The column below reflects the views of the author, and these opinions are neither endorsed nor supported by WisOpinion.com.
Wisconsin is a state in the middle of the U.S. bordered by two of the world’s largest lakes, and Israel is a country that is 60 percent desert. So what were we, the Governor of Wisconsin and the Consul General of Israel to the Midwest, doing together thousands of miles away from our offices?
Working on water.
Israel is strong in desalination technology, while Wisconsin is a leader in freshwater technology, leading to strong potential for collaboration in this sector.
Water was the focus of the weeklong trade mission to Israel by a 16-member delegation from Wisconsin. For both Wisconsin and Israel, the goals of the trip were the same: We aimed to enhance academic affiliations, foster business connectivity, cement strategic partnerships and increase exports. Continued foreign investment in Wisconsin was encouraged, and we built new business collaborations between Israeli and Wisconsin water technology organizations.
Wisconsin and Israel already enjoy a robust trading relationship, with Wisconsin exporting over $80 million worth of goods and services annually to Israel and importing over $200 million annually from the country. Their strengths in the water technology industry complement one another, further connecting the dots between the two leading water hubs.
While in Israel, The Water Council, a nonprofit based in Milwaukee, signed an agreement to collaborate with the Israeli government and higher education groups to research water technology innovations and help keep Wisconsin on the cutting edge of that modern, high-tech industry.
The trade mission also included a visit by the governor to Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening Israel’s innovation ecosystem; a networking event with Israeli companies; and a visit to the Israel location of Astronautics Corporation, which is headquartered in Milwaukee.
Just as important was the fact that this trip cemented the strategic partnerships between the two states. An hour-long visit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a symbol of commitment, friendship, support and proof that we are, and will be, partners for economic growth. An invitation was extended to the Prime Minister to come and visit the great state of Wisconsin.
Bringing together the best minds in the Middle East with the best minds in the Midwest is a win-win for us all. Wisconsin offers a well-trained and experienced workforce, a reliable transportation and infrastructure network, and a top-notch education system that contribute to its top-tier business climate.
Israel’s mature economy and prestigious reputation as a “startup nation” offers numerous opportunities for U.S.-Israel commercial partnerships. This culture of high-end innovation has already attracted more than 250 global companies–including American tech giants such as Facebook, Apple and Microsoft–to set up research and development labs in Israel.
While water technology was the focus of the trade mission, the benefits of the trip extend well beyond that sector as Israel and Wisconsin continue to strengthen the longstanding bonds that exist between our two states.
These bonds ensure a promising, robust future for not only the two states–one in the heartland of America, the other in the epicenter of technology in the Middle East–but for the contributions of both sides to make the planet a better place to live.
When shared demand and shared needs are met with technology and investment and are managed efficiently, the opportunities are endless and the results can be revolutionary.
— Ezra is consul general of Israel to the Midwest. Walker is governor of Wisconsin.