New York economic planners seeking Israeli companies

New York State exports more than $2 billion to Israel annually, a figure that is growing by 10 to 20 percent a year. New York State is pursuing Israeli high-tech companies that might be interested in locating operations there through …

New York State exports more than $2 billion to Israel annually, a figure that is growing by 10 to 20 percent a year. New York State is pursuing Israeli high-tech companies that might be interested in locating operations there through a variety of aid packages, including a Small Business Technological Fund, that provides from $500,000 to $1 million or 25 percent of the company’s total expenses in financial aid.

New York’s outreach to Israel, led by Gerry Stoch, the state’s trade representative in Jerusalem, is part of a reciprocal and mutually beneficial trade and development relationship between Israel and New York, Stoch said.

Stoch, along with seven other U.S. trade representatives representing 17 American states, took part in the International High-Tech 2002 Conference in Jerusalem in August.

Stoch’s main job is to help New York companies sell in Israel. Every year, he said, New York selects 20 to 30 companies and helps them establish trade ties. Eligible companies must be small- to medium-sized and have sales of no more than $50 million.

The effort appears to be working. Every year New York State exports more than $2 billion to Israel. This makes up almost a quarter of Israel’s total U.S. imports and the figure is growing between 10 and 20 percent annually. Exports from New York to Israel include everything from food to heavy industrial machinery and military equipment. The sales figures make Israel New York’s sixth-largest trading partner.

But, Stoch also helps Israeli companies establish a presence in New York, enhancing job development and boosting the state economy through the multiplier effect.

A number of incentives are available for Israeli companies that qualify. Besides aid from the Small Business Technological Fund, New York will also pay salaries of new employees for up to six months, provide funding for some equipment and refurbishing costs and help locate facilities to house operations. Companies interested in the benefits from the Fund must be in the middle of a round of financing to be eligible. The emphasis is on science-based high-tech development.

“I’m mainly looking for three types of companies: medical, biotech and software,” Stoch said.

New York is especially interested in having companies set up their facilities upstate and has established a Nanotechnology Center that’s affiliated with the State University of New York, as part of an economic development effort near the state capital in Albany.

All this cross-pollination has come through a focused effort on the part of New York’s state government, which has long recognized the strong benefits of economic ties to Israel. In 1989, then-Gov. Mario Cuomo created the International Partnership Program to promote exchanges with Israel in culture, tourism and economic development. Later, the New York-Israel Economic Development Partnership was established specifically to promote trade and strategic alliances. In addition, Gov. George Pataki led a delegation to Israel and opened a trade office in Jerusalem in late 1998.

Before the recent economic downturn, it was estimated that more than 100 Israeli companies had a presence in New York State. One such company is Agis Pharmaceuticals, which through its subsidiary, Clay Park Labs Inc., develops, manufactures and distributes generic drugs. Clay Park Labs employs 600 people at its plant and offices in New York City.