Gov. John Bel Edwards, in partnership with the National Governors Association, will lead a delegation of Louisiana officials, business leaders and researchers on an economic development mission to Israel later this month. The invitation to participate in the weeklong mission was extended to Gov. Edwards by Gilad Katz, the consul general of Israel to the Southwest United States.
The delegation will depart Louisiana on Oct. 26, and Gov. Edwards will meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other government leaders in Jerusalem on Oct. 28. Later in the day, Gov. Edwards and First Lady Donna Edwards will participate in a memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center. After two days in Jerusalem, the Louisiana group will travel to Tel Aviv, Israel’s largest city and commercial center, for more discussions on building business development opportunities for Louisiana companies.
The 24-person delegation will include industry leaders in varied fields, including water management, logistics, higher education and cybersecurity. In addition to meeting with companies that have existing projects in Louisiana, Gov. Edwards and the delegation will meet with government and industry leaders to discuss opportunities for Louisiana and Israel to partner in these and other sectors. Gov. Edwards currently serves as co-chairman of the National Governors Association’s Resource Center for State Cybersecurity with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
“It’s a great opportunity for Louisiana when we get such a high-level invitation to visit a key ally and meet with national officials and corporate executives to explore trade and partnership prospects,” Gov. Edwards said. “I am looking forward to building a framework for Louisiana to connect with Israel in oil and gas exploration and cybersecurity, as well as other fields, and I want to make it possible for Louisiana companies and organizations to follow up on the inroads we make with this trade mission. We are looking to establish relationships with the Israeli government and its private sector, and we will build on those relationships as we expand the markets for the goods and services that our Louisiana companies provide to the world.”
“The Consulate is honored to welcome Governor John Bel Edwards on his first official visit to Israel. Louisiana and Israel share excellent relations and mutual interests in the areas of cyber security, energy and water. This visit is not only a representation of those excellent relations, but we hope will also be the springboard to new partnerships and collaborations that will have a lasting impact on both Louisiana and Israel,” said Katz.
As Forbes magazine noted in a July 2017 report, Israel has become a central figure in the global cybersecurity industry, exporting $6.5 billion in cybersecurity products in 2016 and attracting about 20 percent of the global private investment in the industry described by Prime Minister Netanyahu as “a never-ending business” that is “growing geometrically.” Cybersecurity also is a growing industry for Louisiana, where important investments range from the National Cyber Research Park in Bossier City to Barksdale Air Force Base to higher education partnerships with LSU, Louisiana Tech, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of New Orleans and other campuses.
Gov. Edwards and the delegation will meet with cybersecurity experts in anticipation of the NGA’s national cybersecurity conference, to be held in Shreveport-Bossier City in May 2019. The conference will bring together leaders in the cybersecurity community; educators and students; and gubernatorial administrations from all 50 states to discuss the nation’s cybersecurity efforts. Jeff McLeod, director of the NGA’s Homeland Security & Public Safety Division, will join Gov. Edwards on the trade delegation to Israel.
“I look forward to joining Governor Edwards and his team for this unique opportunity to learn from Israeli cybersecurity experts and build relationships with our international partners,” McLeod said. “Louisiana is positioning itself as a leader in cybersecurity and we’re excited to bring the rest of the states to Shreveport to identify ways to strengthen their cyber posture. Having the prime minister’s office and Israeli-based companies involved brings an important international aspect to the work, and we’re eager to find new opportunities for states to work more closely with Israel in addressing the growing cyber threat.”
“International commerce is a cornerstone of our economic development efforts,” Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said. “We excel at attracting foreign direct investment to Louisiana, and we seek to develop relationships that can provide opportunities for our homegrown industry leaders to export their expertise to other markets. Israel has not been a major trading partner for Louisiana in the past, but we are looking forward to exploring how we can expand our markets there in strategic and significant ways.”