Tuesday, October 12, 2010

(ENVIRO) Governor Kulongoski Readies "Clean Tech" Trade Mission To Israel

"Gov. Ted Kulongoski will lead a small delegation late this month on a trade mission to Israel, where he will meet with clean tech companies, venture capitalists and visit an Intel facility slated for expansion.

By the time the governor leaves for the eight-day trip on Oct. 25, he'll have about three months remaining in office. So the trip will be one of his last opportunities for pushing economic initiatives his administration has championed.

'I've always recognized that there was a connection between Israel and Oregon, an economic tie,' Kulongoski said in an interview Tuesday.

'They are as far ahead as any country in the world on renewable energy,' he said. 'It's a country we can partner with very easily on these things that we are trying to make part of our economic structure.'

Details of the itinerary are still being set, but the trip will include a visit to Intel's state-of-the-art semiconductor factory in the southern city of Kiryat Gat. Intel brings employees to Oregon from that facility to train them on new manufacturing technology.

The Kiryat Gat factory is slated for a $2.75 billion expansion, Israel announced this week, financed in part by a $200 million government grant. Intel is in the process of expanding its manufacturing capacity, and Oregon chip industry insiders say an even larger project is on the drawing board here.

The governor's office said he will fly coach, as he usually does on trade missions. The office said it's budgeting $5,000 per person on the trip, which will also include two representatives from the Oregon Business Development Department and one or two members of the governor's staff.

The Port of Portland will also send a delegation, led by Director Bill Wyatt and Diana Daggett, a Port commissioner and Intel corporate affairs director.

Oregon's exports to Israel totaled $107 million last year, 21st among the state's biggest trading partners. By comparison, the state's top export destination -- China -- purchased $3 billion in Oregon goods last year.

And yet this is the governor's second trade mission to Israel in a little more than two years.

'Most people wouldn't think of Israel as a major trading partner, but in fact there is a very strong commercial connection,' Wyatt said. 'It just doesn't show up in the statistics.'

Israel is one of the top five destinations for commercial travelers on Northwest Airlines Delta Air Lines' nonstop flight from Portland to Amsterdam, according to Wyatt. That's driven in part by people traveling between Intel's facilities in Oregon and Israel.

On this trip, Wyatt said he will ask how to improve travel connections between Oregon and Israel and inquire about hang-ups current travelers experience.

'When you travel with the governor on a trip like this you just gain so much more access to people who have these kinds of questions or answers to those questions,' he said.

Israel has been in the headlines this year over its raid of a Turkish relief ship headed for Gaza and more recently for troubled Palestinian peace talks brokered by the U.S.

Mideast politics crossed his mind as he planned this trip, Kulongoski said, but he said he believes in Israeli democracy and sees an economic opportunity for Oregon.

This will actually be Kulongoski's fourth trip to Israel. While he was attorney general, he spent three weeks there to observe a war crimes trial of suspected Nazi concentration camp guard John Demjanjuk. Kulongoski also visited Israel on a two-week vacation.

'I've always been taken by it,' he said. 'I'm a student of history.'" (source)

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