As members of Utah’s Jewish community observed, the Utah Senate unanimously passed resolution SJR18, recognizing Utah’s cultural, economic, military and security bonds to Israel. Sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble, R-Orem, and co-sponsored by Representative Patrice Arent, D-Salt Lake City, this resolution also encouraged Governor Gary Herbert to embark on a trade mission to Israel.
Senate President Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, recently took part in a trade mission to Israel with the National Conference of State Legislatures. “Not only am I glad I did it, I’d love to do it again,” Waddoups said.
Utah does not yet have a formal partnership with Israel; nevertheless, in 2011, Utah exported almost $54 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. The total value of exports since 1996 exceeds $545 million and Israel now ranks as Utah’s 25th leading trade partner.
In addition, Utah companies received close to $2.5 million in 2010 for U.S. government-funded military contracts with Israel through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program (U.S. military assistance to Israel). Some of the Utah companies that received contracts through the FMF program include: John Bean Technologies Corporation based out of Ogden; Group VIII Technology, Inc from Provo; and Ophir-Spiricon, LLC in Logan.
As the only country with free trade agreements with both the United States and the European community, Israel acts as a bridge for international trade between the United States and Europe. In addition, because of the considerable pool of talent, particularly in the high-technology arena, Israel provides excellent investment opportunities.
Roughly 50 Utah companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Hexcel Corporation and Wicat.
Hexcel has sold spare parts and replacement materials to El Al for their Boeing aircrafts and has supplied private companies that supply Israeli Aircraft Industries. Backall says, “Israel has been a long-standing, valued customer. It has been a productive and helpful relationship.”
Another airline supplier, Wicat, provided El Al computer-based training solutions to learn how to fly and to use devices. Tod Peterson, Director of Marketing, says, “We would like to continue doing business with El Al and we are actively pursuing business with them.”