Gregg Roman wants to promote trade relations between southwestern Pennsylvania and Israel.
It’s one reason he signed on to a statewide trip to Israel this month for Jewish leaders — principally from Philadelphia — to promote his region’s interests.
“We want to show Pittsburgh is a friendly environment for Israelis to consider investment,” said Roman, director of the Community Relations Council for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “Conversely, we want to show Pittsburgh companies that doing business with Israel makes sense.”
Roman joined a legislative mission of 18 leaders, including lawmakers, Federation members and officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development on the trip, which ran from March 3 to 10.
Promoting economic development, between southwest Pennsylvania and Israel has become a goal of the CRC, Roman said.
Not that Israelis don’t already do business here. Roman noted one company at the Southpointe suburban business park near Canonsburg — Nice Technologies, a research and development facility — that has brought 170 jobs to the area.
The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition (PJC), the lobbying arm in Harrisburg for the state’s federations, organized the trip.
“This is our fifth state legislative mission to Israel,” PJC Executive Director Hank Butler said. “The PJC and the Philadelphia federation work on this trip; we also work with other Jewish Federations for their input and joining our efforts.
“We combine showcasing the beauty, culture, and sites of Israel along with the PJC’s legislative agenda and issues important to our efforts.”
Indeed those on the trip visited many tourist attractions in Israel, but they interacted with business leaders as well.
• Roee Adler, chief product officer at Soluto, a cloud-based PC management service based in Tel Aviv;
• David Widerker, North American Marketing Director of Plasan Sasan Ltd.;
• Samir Hatuki, manager of the Water Quality Department at the Mekorot Water Company; and
• Sherwin Pomerantz, Pennsylvania’s trade representative in Israel.
The group also met with several political leaders, legal experts and academics about a myriad of subjects facing the Jewish state. The highlight of these sessions may have been the meeting with Moshe Yaalon, whom Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu later appointed Minister of Defense.
But for Roman, the main thrust was the business contacts.
“This was a larger reason why I was there,” Roman said.
He met with at least 23 representatives of Israeli commerce and trade groups and government ministries “to tell them they have a partner in southwestern Pennsylvania.”
Roman, who is teaching a pilot class on doing business in Israel at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business, also networked with Israeli school officials about establishing cooperative agreements between the Pittsburgh area and Israeli universities.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)