The Southeast is known for its welcoming people and hospitality but not enough Israelis understand that it is the economic engine for many key industry sectors.

Combined, six states in the Southeast region (North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi) of the United States would rank among the top six global economies. Throughout the region, a variety of industries continue to show strength and growth, which supports an overall strong economic picture. Some of the Southeast’s top industries include:

Financial technology; Cyber Security; Information technology; Biotechnology and life sciences; Healthcare; Energy (both traditional and renewable); Aerospace and aviation; Automotive; Smart mobility; Smart cities; Smart home; Manufacturing; Logistics; Agriculture; Entertainment; Tourism; Casual Dining; Printing.

Coca Cola, Delta, IBM, and BoA to name a few

From Fortune 500 headquarters to large manufacturing operations, the Southeast attracts companies in growth mode that want access to an educated workforce, a favorable tax climate, and access to natural resources and infrastructure that support their business.

Over the last several months, announcements were made by Apple, Microsoft and Oracle that they will open large east coast operations. Apple unveiled plans to build a campus and engineering hub in the Research Triangle (North Carolina), committing more than $1 billion in investments and creating at least 3000 jobs.  Microsoft will grow in Georgia creating a new data center and a new campus becoming one of the largest hubs in the U.S,  Lastly, Oracle will bring 8500 jobs and $1.2 billion in investment to Nashville, Tennessee.

In addition, individuals follow these companies to Southeast locations because of lifestyle and affordability, in addition to the availability of jobs.. The Southeast is home to many superior institutions of higher education including the Georgia Institute of Technology, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, Emory University, University of Alabama, University of Georgia, University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina, Memphis State University among many others.

On a global scale, the Southeast’s geography is ideal for companies seeking a hub for conducting commerce both nationally and internationally. Southeast markets are readily accessible by land, water and air, and they are connected by intricate networks of infrastructure.

The U.S. Southeast Region and its economic engine finds in Israel a nexus of innovation that propels economic competitiveness. The Southeast region is home to more than a few market giants, including The Coca Cola Company, Mueller Water Products, HCA Healthcare, InterTech Group, UPS, FedEx, NCR, Global Payments, Equifax, Bank of America, McKesson, IBM, First Data, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, The Southern Company, AFLAC, Cox Enterprises, ICE, and Truist.

The state of Georgia is a major unsung financial technology (FinTech) powerhouse. 70% of global payments come through Atlanta. In fact, the region dubbed by the financial world as “Transaction Alley” is beginning to rack up an impressive list of FinTech credentials:

Atlanta is riding the wave of this digital reinvention of payment processing to become a quiet FinTech powerhouse. Developing and being part of vibrant digital ecosystems is the name of the game.

Israeli innovation is no stranger to the Southeast

The Southeast is a hotbed for prominent Israeli companies with over 150 Israeli companies calling the Southeast their Americas headquarters.  The Israeli digital printing industry is housed in metro Atlanta (Indigo, Scitex, Landa Nanotechnology, Highcon, Massivit3D).  The Israeli non-woven manufacturing industry is found in North Carolina. Israeli companies Nice, Verint, and Amdocs operate in metro Atlanta. There are four Israeli manufacturing operations in South Georgia (Ceasarstone, Haifa Group, Tosaf and Bram Industries).  The aerospace/defense industry is anchored in Huntsville, Alabama with Elbit Systems as an industry leader.

Research Triangle Park (RTP) in Durham, North Carolina, is the largest research park and premier global innovation center in the United States and houses hundreds of companies, including science and technology firms, government agencies, academic institutions, startups and nonprofits. Anchored by IBM, Cisco, Fidelity Investments, GlaxoSmithKline and RTI International, the RTP houses companies in pharma, logistics, enterprise software, agritech, biomanufacturing, data management, life sciences, sustainable building materials, smart home tech, software development, medical devices, blockchain, cloud, alternative energy and many more.  The Medical University of South Carolina has welcomed Israeli innovation in healthcare including neuroscience. Mississippi has cooperated with Israel around ship building, homeland security, aerospace and vocational training.

A number of deals between Israeli companies and Southeast U.S. companies have set milestones in bi-national economic activity. Just a sampling highlights the Southeast as a hub for deals. In 1994 Bellsouth (now AT&T Wireless) became a partner in Israel’s second cellular telephone network Cellcom. In 1995 Blades Technology entered into a joint venture with Pratt & Whitney. Jacada established their North American Headquarters in 1995. Following a Georgia Governor lead trade mission to Israel in June 2000, six Israeli companies including Given Imaging established their Americas headquarters in Georgia. In 2000, Delta and El Al established a code share agreement. In 2001, Gulfstream began a 20 year plus relationship with Israel Aerospace Industries. UPS developed an outsourcing relationship and strategic partnership with Motorola Israel to assure competitive advantage in, at that time, the turbulent courier service industry.

More examples include: HP acquired Scitex Vision for M$230 and is now headquartered in Alpharetta, GA along with Indigo. McKesson acquired Medcon for M$105 in 2005 and is now Change Healthcare. Delta began direct flights from Atlanta to Israel in 2006. Witness Systems was acquired by Verint for M$950 in 2007.  Cox Communications acquired much of its broadband cable technology in Israel beginning in 2007. In 2012 IDEA Bio-Medical sold their sophisticated research technology to the Medical University of South Carolina. Endochoice merged with Peer Medical in 2013. NCR purchased Retalix for M$650 in 2013. Most recently, Mueller Water Products acquired Krausz Industries for M$140 in 2018 and Clearwave acquired Odoro in 2020.

Many Israeli startup companies have resided in incubators and accelerators in the Southeast pioneering construction technology, legal referral technology, healthcare instruction software and remote physical therapy to name a few. There have been over 10 Southeast – Israel projects awarded Binational Research and Development Foundation (BIRD Foundation) grants in diverse industry sectors.

Working in partnership, the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast, the Israel Economic Mission (Ministry of Economy) and Conexx: America Israel Business Connector collaborate with State economic development agencies, municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, global companies, communal organizations and many other partners/channels to bridge the Southeast to Israel’s dynamic innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems and to open doors for Israeli companies wishing to enter the Southeast U.S. marketplace.  The Southeast is the new frontier for Israeli economic opportunity.

Authored by Randall Foster, Chair and Barry Swartz, VP, Conexx:  America Israel Business Connector.