NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Colorado and Israel have increased their business cooperation in recent years. Today, more than 80 Colorado companies do business in Israel.
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The Colorado governor signed a deal with BrightSource Energy to examine whether Israeli solar technology can be used on projects in Colorado.

State to State: Colorado and Israel

The “big excitement,” as Colorado’s 1859 gold rush was known, brought the the first Jewish immigrants to Colorado. Today, Colorado is the center of yet another “big excitement”—and this time, it’s bringing research, knowledge, and information from Israel.

Fortune Magazine’s annual ranking of the country’s hottest corporate locations has included Denver for six years in a row—a fact that Israel understands well. Today, more than 80 Colorado companies do business in Israel. In addition, Colorado exports $30 to $40 million in manufactured goods to Israel every year, and has done so for the past decade.

Last summer, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter led a highly successful weeklong mission to Israel. (AIPAC’s Colorado chair, Howard Boigon, was part of the group.) The governor’s delegation established partnerships in a variety of sectors, including energy, clean technology, aerospace, bioscience and water. During the trip, Colorado and Israel signed their first official agreements and memorandums of understanding. When Gov. Ritter returned home, he expressed his confidence that the agreements “will lead to increased jobs, investments and economic growth for Colorado.”

The Colorado first lady, Jeannie Ritter, joined her husband on the trip to Israel, and she also came with an ambitious agenda. Jeannie, who has made mental health awareness her top priority as first lady, met with behavioral health experts in the Jewish state to discuss a number of Israeli cutting-edge mental health practices. Her discussions focused particularly on how Israel treats its veterans as well as its soldiers on the front lines.

Alongside these high-level visits, citizens of both states are working together. Separated by thousands of miles, chemists David Nesbitt of the University of Colorado and Benny Gerber of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have attempted to uncover the secrets of inelastic scattering. Their research has had far-reaching effects, from the manufacturing of computer chips and batteries to the understanding of cell membranes and the mechanics of ozone depletion. Professor Nesbitt believes that partnerships like his create the greatest potential for scientific breakthroughs.

Joint Colorado-Israel research has also helped protect the Colorado potato crop from profit-killing viruses. For Colorado, which produces $100 million worth of potatoes every year, this research was vital. This highly sensitive detection method used to detect the virus was funded by the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) and has since been further developed for use in other applications, including pregnancy tests.

Even with the best virus detectors, healthy crops still need water—something Colorado, like Israel, often lacks. Shared advances in water desalination, treatment and conservation are therefore vital to the growth of both Colorado and Israel. This issue was paramount during Gov. Ritter’s recent trip to Israel.

The people of Colorado express their solidarity with Israel in a variety of ways. Children from Denver have created a program named “Biking for Kids Under Fire.” The program asks for donations that will be put towards the purchase of bikes, helmets, and bicycle repairs for children at Kibbutz Nahal Oz. This Denver-based group of children recognized the daily struggles that kids their age at Kibbutz Nahal Oz endure in the form of Hamas rocket attacks, and are sending their support one bike at a time.

From the technicalities of inelastic scattering to growing potatoes, the Colorado-Israel partnership is bound to continue yielding substantial benefits in the upcoming years thanks to many partnerships between these two highly entrepreneurial, innovative states.

AIPAC Diamond Intern Emma Noftz contributed to this report. BACK TO TOP