INDIANAPOLIS–Indianapolis will soon have a new sister city. Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday he had signed an agreement with Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city. It’s part of a growing partnership with Israel, said Hogsett, and Aviv Ezra, the consul general of Israel to the Midwest.
“We had an informal relationship. I don’t know what happened, but over the years that waned,” said Hogsett, speaking of previous ties with the city. “We will be establishing the formal sister city relationship with Haifa and bringing Indianapolis and Indiana closer to the State of Israel.
But, the economy and politics aren’t the only areas where the two states are partnering.
“We had the governor come over to Israel. We had the speaker come over to Israel. We have reciprocity of Israelis, including the minister of agriculture that came right here…to meet the governor to see what we can do together,” said Ezra, who spoke at a lunch in the capital city- a meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma both recently visited Israel in separate trips. Bosma was the keynote speaker and spoke about why he believes the partnership is important.
At least 500 jobs are expected to be created as Israeli companies locate branches in Indiana. The Israeli Homefront Command and the Indiana National Guard are now pooling resources and training on how to fight terrorism, said Ezra. Indiana is one of three states to have signed such a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
Agriculture, biotechnology, hi-tech, IT, and including cybertechnology,” said Ezra, listing off areas where the Hoosier state and the State of Israel are cooperating. “We have picked Indianapolis to be our next cybertech conference.”
Ezra said that will happen in October.
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He said the governor, while in Israel, signed a pledge to better the economic relationship between the two states.
“It’s pretty clear that the biggest ally of Israel is the United States, and the biggest ally of the United States is Israel. But when translated from the federal level to the state level, there’s nothing better to see than the relationship with the great State of Indiana,” said Ezra.
Thursday’s visit was his fifth trip to the state. Ezra’s office is in Chicago. He encouraged people to visit Israel and spoke with Bosma about what he sees as the necessity of a direct flight from the Midwest, be it Chicago or Indianapolis.
“We see the potential. We’ve been seeing it for a few years. But, the secret is taking it from the potential to reality. And, we’ve been doing it right now in the last few years.”