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|Wednesday, February 23, 2011|
By Peter Beland
The newly formed Oregon-Israel Business Alliance hosted around 70 people last night at the White Stag building in Old Town Portland to highlight why strengthening business ties with Israel is a natural fit. The event was intended to be non-political, but politics interceded nonetheless.
Besides similar investments in sustainable energy and agriculture, Israel is a major player in the high tech sector; as is the case with Oregon, Intel is the largest private employer there. Israel also has a strong reputation for can-do innovation. "In the U.S in software, it's 'let's create the scaffolding and then the product later.' Their mindset is 'let's build it right the first time'," said attendee Mark Lawler, co-founder of ProSight. Acquired by Primavera Systems in 2007, the Portland tech company was initially funded by three Israeli venture capital groups, one of which was headed by the current mayor of Jerusalem.
Former governor Ted Kulongoski, who led an Oregon delegation to Israel last year at the end of his tenure, spoke highly of Israel's culture of innovation in renewable technologies. "These things are born out of necessity, not design," he said, admiring Israel development of high-tech irrigation systems in light of highly contentious water disputes in the region. As such, he said, the irrigation systems are top quality and could help farmers in eastern Oregon manage their water use more efficiently. According to Yelena Giderman, Director of Business Development at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco, Israel recycles 75% of its water.
At the end of his talk, Kulongoski fielded a question from Peter Miller, president of Portland-based Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights. Miller wrote off Israel's accomplishments in water management, stating that one way Israel conserved water is by stealing it from Palestinians. Another representative from the pro-Palestine group spoke of her experience in Palestinian territory when she witnessed Israeli settlers pouring trash and cement into Palestinian wells. Both speakers were met with shouts of "Go home!" and were eventually removed from the building after a series of fiery accusations on their part. According to Miller, $286 million of Oregon's federal taxes are sent in the form of military aid to Israel.
Though Israel ranks 25th on Oregon's list of trading partners, speakers like Noah Siegel, international-affairs director for Portland Mayor Sam Adams, stressed Israel's high-value products and business approach that he feels Oregon could use to great effect. "There is undeniably a raw spirit of entrepreneurship," he said. Though Port of Portland Executive Director Bill Wyatt cautioned that "shipping material from [Oregon] to Israel is neither easy nor cheap", he was enthusiastic about the effect on trade Israeli investment in Oregon would have. "(Foreign direct investment) is trade by another name," he said, thinking back to the positive effect Japanese investment had on Oregon in the 1980's
The Oregon Israeli Business Alliance plans to meet three to five times a year, with the next meet-up to be hosted by Stephen Saltzman, director of strategic investments, of Intel capital.
Peter Beland is an associate writer for Oregon Business.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
By Kim Moore | OB Editor
The 2015 survey launched this week. It is open to for-profit private and public companies that have at least 15 full- or part-time employees in Oregon.
Wednesday, July 02, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY | OB WEB EDITOR
Dress for Success Oregon promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
BY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.
Friday, August 15, 2014
In this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.
Friday, August 22, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
When business intersects with family, a host of situations can arise. Without a clear vision and careful planning, hard-earned investments can become stressful burdens.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
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