By Glenn Hamer and Ella Hamer
The IAC’s 8th Annual Summit, which celebrated the US-Israel partnership and Israel’s 75th birthday, brought about 3,000 participants to Austin this past weekend. The IAC is dedicated to building a united Israeli-American community that strengthens the bond between both nations. As two of the attendees of this sold-out event, we can say that the Summit certainly achieved this objective.
Serial entrepreneur Lorne Abony, who is involved with the largest cellular agricultural venture fund in the world, kicked off the opening session of the Israel America Business Playground. He called Austin the nation’s “best kept secret”-- a booming business economy matched with a friendly environment. Livia Link-Raviv, Israel’s superb Consul General for the Southwest, specified a number of areas for Israel-Texas collaboration, including agriculture and cyber, emphasizing that entrepreneurship makes the Israeli-American bond more resilient. Reflecting on the relationship between the two Lone Star states, Texas Association of Business Chairman and PTG Group CEO, Massey Villarreal, said that “Israel is the Start-Up Nation, and Texas is the Scale-Up State.” Massey is correct. If measured as a country, Texas would have the ninth largest economy with a GDP of $2 trillion.
Governor Greg Abbott furthered this sentiment, declaring Texas the “headquarters of headquarters,” as it boasts more Fortune 500 companies than any other state. Texas has also led the country in exports for 20 years and tech exports for nine. Home to the Energy Capital of the World, Texas produces more oil, gas, and renewables than any other state. Number one for wind and soon to be number one in solar, the state is home to Tesla and the largest announced green hydrogen facility in the country. Additionally, Texas is tied for the most tier one research universities and is the birthplace to critical inventions such as semiconductors.
Similarly, Governor Abbott praised the dynamic and global entrepreneurial ecosystem that has developed in Israel. No country matches Israel on a per capita basis in terms of start-up companies and innovation. In fact, many of the conference attendees came to promote their start-ups and find appropriate partnerships. Roni Cantor-Balan, CEO and Founder of Ciconia Medical, came to find investors for her FemTech company’s non-invasive 3D imaging device that aims to replace invasive and risky medical exams. The Israeli tech brand is globally renowned, and Austin’s booming tech scene is attractive to Israeli companies.
Governor Abbott also spoke to the “strong and enduring bond” between the people of Texas and Israel. A genuine friend to the Jewish and Israeli people, the Governor signed one of the nation’s strongest anti-Boycott Divestment Sanctions laws and has awarded $10 million in grants to secure places of worship like synagogues.
Israel and Texas share a deep defense relationship. Before the panel, TAB CEO Glenn Hamer had the chance to be in a flight simulator for the F-35. About 50 of these fifth-generation fighters are in Israel or will be delivered soon. These planes are manufactured in Ft. Worth, and having visited the site, Glenn considers it one of the most inspirational places he has seen.
Former TAB intern, Ella Hamer, who is studying electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, participated in the IAC Mishelanu National Summit for college students. This track included important programming on entrepreneurship, media, pro-Israel advocacy, and cultural pride. She also attended sessions with elected officials committed to advancing the US-Israel relationship. For example, Ella listened to a conversation with Arizona Treasurer Kimberley Yee about promoting US-Israel trade. Yee has increased Arizona’s purchases of Israeli Bonds to $30 million since 2013.
The entire IAC team led by Shoham Nicolet did a remarkable job producing this event. Our deepest gratitude to Dr. Miriam Adelson and her late husband Sheldon Adelson for their support in making the IAC a reality and now a permanent, positive, and growing fixture to advance US-Israel relations. The Adelsons have been the most important people in the 21st Century in supporting the Jewish people and encouraging a strong US-Israel relationship.
Glenn Hamer is the President & CEO of the Texas Association of Business.
Ella Hamer is an Israeli-American dual citizen and a freshman studying electrical and computer engineering at Duke University.