Mayor’s Israel Business Trip Geared Toward Building Relationships for the Future


Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter will be leaving office less than six months from now. But as a result of the work he did last week during a whirlwind three-day trip to Israel, the impact will likely be felt long after he’s gone.

Meeting with representatives from a number of established businesses as well as start-up companies, the mayor laid the groundwork for them to establish Philadelphia business ties.

“We set very high expectations,” said Mayor Nutter at a press conference July 21, just hours upon his return, “but first and foremost, we met them. There’s a growing interest in the city of Philadelphia. When many companies hear the statistics — fifth-largest city in the United States, second-largest on the East Coast, perfectly situated between New York and Washington, D.C. — they’re intrigued. Many of them did not know that.”
As a direct result the Mayor has received pledges from at least five Israeli companies to set up offices within the city. “I think I can be very comfortable saying there are a significant number of firms who, A) want to come to Philadelphia; or B) want to hear more about the opportunities here,” said Nutter, who expects some of those companies to visit in the near future. “We did ourselves proud and got really high marks from them. They were truly impressed.”

“The multitude of Israeli companies interacting with Philadelphia will be Mayor Nutter’s legacy,” said John Churchill, director of economic affairs for the Consulate General of Israel for the Mid-Atlantic Region. “We’re grateful to Mayor Nutter for all he’s spearheaded and are excited to pick up with the next administration.”

The mayor said his intention early in his administration was to make an international push, with Israel one of his prime target, but circumstances intervened.
“As the great philosopher Mike Tyson once said, ‘Everybody’s got a plan until you get punched in the face,’ ” he quipped. “My original plan was in my second or third year in office to embark on sending an international delegation to draw business here.
“You’ll recall in my second or third year, we were in the midst of the worst recession since The Great Depression, so we kind of got punched in the face. It wasn’t until we came out of the recession and had a positive story to tell that we were able to start pursuing this. So some of activity will take place during my time, some will take place in the future. So what? It’s all on behalf of the city of Philadelphia.”

Following a 2013 trip to Israel in which he met with then-Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the mayors of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Bethlehem,

Nutter established a three-way academic partnership between Drexel University, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Hebrew University. At the time, he also met with a number of businesses to convince them Philadelphia was the right place to expand.

This past April, several of those companies came here to see for themselves what Philadelphia had to offer, setting the stage for this recent trip, which coincided with a visit to Frankfurt, Germany, where the mayor signed a “Sister City” agreement.

After spending two days in Frankfurt, Nutter left for Tel Aviv, arriving in time to have Shabbat dinner.

Ordinarily, the Sabbath is considered a day of rest. It wasn’t for Nutter, whose day included meetings with Life Changing Experiences, an anti-bullying agency that will work in conjunction with CHOP to prevent violence, and Via-ride, a transportation company that has already established a New York office and is considering expanding here. Via-ride would serve as a paratransit operation working in conjunction with SEPTA.

That was followed by a guided tour of Jerusalem for the mayor and six members of his delegation, along with Vered Nohi-Becker, executive director of the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Nutter then had dinner with Chemi Peres of Potango Venture Fund.

His Sunday schedule was even more hectic. He met first with TEVA, the pharmaceutical company that already has a division in Horsham. Then came visits to five companies over a two-day period that had previously committed to expand their operations into the Philadelphia region during their October trip here.


Those companies are:

• PhysiMax, a technology company specializing in diagnosing sports injuries before they happen;

• Pango, which features an app that will allow users to pay for parking from their phones;

• Simlat, which handles drone technology;

• We Works, a Tel Aviv

network of co-working spaces for startup companies, which is expected to open a 30,000-square foot space in the Piazza in Northern Liberties later this year; and

• Pico, a photo-sharing technology company.

Before returning home Monday night, Nutter concluded his journey by visiting Netivot, a border city near Gaza considered the “sister city” to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. He also returned to Tel Aviv to meet with a number of managing partners at a venture capital fund round table.

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