BY AL SHAMS / AJT Business Writer //
During his recent visit to Atlanta, Eli Groner, Israel’s Minister for Economic Affairs to the United States, met with local business leaders, addressed several synagogues and spoke to a large group of Emory students. His messages were encouraging. At each engagement, he stressed that:
The U.S. is Israel’s most important economic relationship. In general, the two countries maintain an active, cordial and multifaceted dialogue. By the nature of his position, he is deeply involved in many of these discussions. The relationship between the two nations is mutually beneficial; in many areas, the U. S. provides benefits to Israel, while in a growing number of areas, Israel has benefited the U.S. It should be noted that economic matters permeate other areas of government and general government relations, and so economic issues might impact military and security concerns and vice versa.
Israel is a stable democracy. The country has a strong commitment to the rule of law, which includes respect for human and property rights. Also, with an innovative, dynamic economy, Israel pays special attention to science, healthcare and technology.
Opportunities abound for the U.S investor in Israel. While many U.S.-based companies are seeking to participate in Israel’s growth, Groner believes that Israel itself offers tremendous investment opportunities for U.S.-based investors, both individual and institutional. Venture capital, private equity and institutional investors have long been attracted and had access to the Israeli market. Groner says that, with the introduction of new ETF’s and mutual funds, it will be easier for the individual investor to participate in Israel’s growth. For example, Givens Imaging, a locally based Israeli company that sells the PillCam (a miniscule device ingested by patients to better visualize the esophagus), trades shares on U.S. markets. There are also many other well-known Israeli companies whose shares also trade on U.S. Exchanges, and approximately 285 U.S. companies have R&D facilities in Israel.
Innovation permeates all aspects of Israeli life. Israel’s innovations in technology are well known, but Groner believes this pioneering mindset seeps into all aspects of the economy and society. He cited Israelis’ nimble, creative way of approaching problems and their encouraging, undeterred attitude when not met with early success. The Minister’s office devotes the bulk of its efforts toward government-to-government dialogue, dealing with a broad list of economic issues affecting the two countries. Among these, cyber-security and loan guaranty extensions have received much recent attention. Groner is proud that a number of U.S.-based organizations have fostered commerce between American and Israeli companies. He had special praise for the good work done by the Atlanta-based American-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region and its president, Tom Glaser.
More on Eli Groner
Groner was confirmed to his current position by the Israeli Cabinet in August of 2011. He was previously employed in the private sector, working in senior positions dealing with private equity and management consulting, and served as a special advisor to the Chairman of Tnuva, Israel’s largest consumer package goods company.
Prior to those roles, he served from 2003 to 2009 as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where he worked with a number of Fortune 1000 corporations around the world as well as many of Israel’s leading companies. Groner was also selected to lead firm-wide training for new consultants while at MicKinsey.
Groner’s illustrious career had its humble beginnings at The Jerusalem Post, where he served as a finance and economics correspondent. He was also a summer investment banking associate as Lehman Brothers in New York, working on mergers and acquisitions.
Before his time in finance, Groner served in the paratrooper corps from 1989 to 1992, service for which he was cited for outstanding performance and leadership. Both during and following his service, he spent several years playing for Israel’s national fast-pitch softball team, where he participated in the European Championships, and won a Bronze Medal at the 1993 Maccabiah Games.
Groner has an MBA from New York University, where he was a Director’s Fellow, and received a bachelor’s in political science from Bar-Ilan University. Born in the U.S., he immigrated to Israel at 15.
Today, he and his wife Tamar have five children.
Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident and an investment professional with more that 35 years of industry experience. Readers wishing to learn more about the above subject can Google the Embassy of Israel to the U.S. and AICCSE.Org.