Here are ten take-aways from my recent business development trip to Israel…
1. The sinking dollar is hurting the export economy. I used to get 4.30 Shekels to the dollar. Now, I get 3.40. This is a big spread. It affects people who retired in Israel and draw their money from a U.S. bank or investment fund. It affects American companies buying Israeli good and services. It affects the tourism trade here as well. On the other hand, it’s good for Israeli companies buying U.S. goods and services – at a 20% discount.
2. Traffic has gotten….progressively worse. It just takes longer and longer to get to meetings. I scheduled my meetings during off hours, or just planned on spending lots more time in traffic.
3. There are venture capital investments being made. I see this in the companies I met with who are just getting funded, drawing on recent funds from being funded, or raising money from wealthy individuals or angels.
4. Most of the people I have spoken to would prefer John McCain as our next President.
McCain was recently here last week and was traveling with Joe Lieberman, who I could see playing a role in a McCain Presidency
I could also see McCain working with Clinton (Bill, that is) in some kind of relationship or outreach role with Israel.
5. The planes are full, coming and going. Delta is adding another flight from New York and and as summer ramps up, there remains a good and healthy tourism and technology economy.
6. Building new homes in settlements continue. And that’s a good thing.
I met with one client who is just completing the building of his home about 15 miles from Bethlehem. I really admire what he is doing, his commitment to settling here, and settling in a land that belongs to the Jewish people.
7. I gained about five pounds.
Yes, I ate too much.
Not bad stuff.
Just lots of great falafel, schwarma, wonderful pastries, and great wine.
It was worth it.
8. My 16 year old is having a great life experience here.
She is spending the second half of her Sophomore year in High School on the EIE NFTY High School Program.
If you have a high school student, consider sending your child on any of the various programs offered from here.
9. It’s perfectly safe here.
Yes, there are problems at times, but they are the same back in the U.S., or anywhere in the world.
I strongly encourage you to travel, enjoy, learn, expand your horizons and if you are in business, check out the many business opportunities here.
10. The hotels have gotten a bit pricier. I don’t know if it’s due to the increase in demand from more tourism or the sinking dollar.
Regardless, I came, had a great week, look forward again some time in 2008.