Beth at trade mission

Defense industry trade missions a win-win for Michigan and Israel.

Michigan and Israel defense companies are reaping the benefit of the passion of Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Beth S. Gotthelf, who spearheaded the first-ever trade mission of Israeli defense companies to a state and led to the first-ever trade mission by a state of defense companies to Israel this month.

Recently, Butzel Long participated in the five-day trade mission to Israel coordinated by the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA), the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), MEDC Defense Center and Macomb County. The mission was in cooperation with the State of Israel Minister of Defense and SIBAT International Defense Cooperation (SIBAT).

The goal was to expand export opportunities, meet with potential buyers and promote Michigan’s leadership role in the defense sector. The Right Place, a regional nonprofit economic development organization, based in Grand Rapids, also participated.

“The recent trade mission to Israel was extremely valuable in establishing relationships with potential partner companies in Israel and also creating new Michigan relationships,” said Jim Kendall, president and CEO of Cignys in Saginaw. “Two new connections could quickly result in new business, which, from a timing standpoint, certainly exceeded my expectations of the mission.”

Vicky Rad, deputy director of Macomb County Planning and Economic Development, said, ““There are vast opportunities for Michigan to partner with Israeli defense businesses. This trade mission has helped us educate them on the defense assets we have here in Macomb County and throughout our state.”

SIBAT wanted Michigan to be the first state SIBAT hosted in Israel for a defense mission, said Gotthelf, director of innovation and external relations and chair of Butzel Long’s Aerospace and Defense Industry Team and a MIBA board member. “The mission to Israel just concluded with more business opportunities for both Michigan and Israel companies.”

According to Gene Sorgi, president of Challenger Communications LLC in Albion, and Jill Reschke, Challenger’s director of sales and marketing, the opportunity to meet with the right people at the largest Israeli defense companies to discuss providing satellite antennas, support and replacement parts is invaluable.

“The opportunity to travel to Israel with the Michigan delegation was a great opportunity for RAMI,” said Robert Payne, general manager of RAMI in Grand Haven. “The ability to meet with leaders at SIBAT and leading Israeli defense companies will be invaluable as RAMI looks to further expand into the Israeli and international markets.”

Meanwhile, Gotthelf said that SIBAT has had trade missions in the past, but only with other countries. Her vision was for a trade mission to Michigan. She approached SIBAT, who at first had no interest. Working with the MEDC, the Defense Center and Macomb County, she spent 18 months, including two visits to Israel, convincing, then planning and hosting the 2017 trade mission to Michigan. At the time, Gotthelf also served as the president of the Michigan Israel Business Bridge (MIBB) — now the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA).

The 2017 trade mission to Michigan was successful in netting business opportunities; it garnered key attention to Michigan as a major defense center.

“The Michigan Israel conference was a success,” said Amira Ilany, SIBAT European and North American division director, based in Tel Aviv. “Gotthelf’s initiative of this event, planning all the details of the schedule and executing it was all together a whole new concept that needs to be duplicated again. Exposure of the Israeli defense companies to professional end users in Michigan and to defense companies as well was an unprecedented event. Our defense representatives from the Israeli defense companies were very pleased.”

Said Gotthelf: “There is more opportunity than ever for Michigan and Israel-based companies, from mature organizations to start-ups, to collaborate.”

Source: Caponigro Public Relations

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