CONEXX TO PRESENT AT ANNUAL BUSINESS SEMINAR

BY AL SHAMS
AJT CONTRIBUTOR

On August 21, 2014, Conexx, formerly the American Israel Chamber of Commerce, will host its 18th Annual Professional and Business Seminar at the Selig Center.

This half-day event offers area professionals an opportunity to become aware of the recent innovations in Israel and how their clients can capitalize on these developments. Through a series of presentations, participants can learn why and how bilateral activities can be of mutual benefit. Topics for review will include trade, legal, M&A and business culture, among other items.

Opher Aviran, Consul General of Israel to the Southeast, and Michael Horowitz, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, will welcome all participants to the event. They are sure to highlight the tremendous growth of bilateral business between the U.S. and Israel. Governor Deal’s recent trade mission to Israel is an example of how their efforts have led to growth in trade.

Kobi Rasner, President of Synergy Overseas, will provide the opening address. Mr. Rasner was born in the U.S. and is the author of the book Doing Business in America: How to Sell a Horse to a Cowboy. He has over 25 years of experience in the areas of sales, marketing and brand management, with special expertise in the international arena. He has helped foster relationships in the business to commerce, business to business, business to government and the business to military markets. He is an artist when it comes to “getting things done in the Israel – American business world.”

“The Bridge”

Coca–Cola, one of Atlanta’s premier corporate citizens, has begun a six-month program during which it hopes to become more aware of innovations occurring in Israel that could benefit Coke’s worldwide operations. We should remember that any large multi-national corporation has an enormous investment in and reliance on information technology to support its worldwide day-to-day operations.

This venture, referred to as “The Bridge,” is an effort by Coca-Cola to creatively “think outside the box” and see how Israel’s innovations can benefit the company. Areas of focus will be e-commerce, social media, consumer research and novel marketing strategies.

The effort will be based in Tel Aviv and Anthony Newstead, Global Director of Coca-Cola’s Innovation and IT efforts, will lead this venture. The company is hopeful that this six-month effort will be successful and will become permanent.

Changes in Immigration Law

The Israeli cabinet recently approved special visas for U.S. investors who frequently visit Israel for business. These special visas will ease the burden, hassle and expense for these travelers. In response, the U.S. will ease visa restrictions for Israeli investors, creating a new fast track for E2 Visas and allowing these Israeli business people to stay in the U.S. for up to two years.

Karen Weinstock, an immigration attorney, will discuss this new rule and its positive implications for U.S.–Israel business activities.

Large, multi-national corporations like Intel and Microsoft have dedicated staffs who are adept at navigating the visa process. This will be of great help to small companies and small investors.

Keynote Speaker: Yosef Abramowitz

Yosef was born in the U.S. but moved to Israel at an early age. He is an educator, entrepreneur, philanthropist and pioneer in the growth of solar energy in Israel and Africa.

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, was an early visionary on the potential for solar energy. In 1956, he said, “The largest and most impressive source of energy in our world and the source of life for every plant and animal yet a source so little used by mankind today is the sun. Solar energy will continue to flow toward us almost indefinitely.”

Mindful of Ben Gurion comments, Abramowitz helped co-found Arava Power in 2006. The company’s goal is to provide ten percent of Israel’s total energy needs through renewable, solar sources. Since its founding, the company has built and placed in operation a number of solar facilities in Israel and Africa.

Arava has important business relationships with Siemens, Israel Electric Corporation, Bank Hapoalim and many Bedouin Tribes in the Negev.

Yosef was named as one of CNN’s top six global “Green Pioneers,” one of PV Tech’s “Most Inspiring Solar CEOs” in the world and the Israel Energy and Business Convention’s “Person of the Year.” He was also nominated on three separate occasions for the Nobel Peace Prize. His comments are sure to be enlightening.

On separate but related matters, Conexx will continue to foster introductions between Israeli and U.S. Companies. In fact, they seek to expand this effort in the years ahead. In addition, it plans more customized trade missions in the future, organizing trips where a particular industry, technology or company is the main focus. The organization will continue to work closely with all state trade commissioners in the region. Governor Deal’s recent visit to Israel in June could serve as a model for the future.

Editor’s note: Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident, member of B’Nai Torah, former CPA and investment professional with more than 36 years industry experience.