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Beachwood to Recruit Israeli Firms

The city's economic development team will survey Israel's landscape and identify opportunities for economic development

Though Jim Doutt's presentation on building an incentive framework for businesses didn't center on Israel, the country played a large role in it.

As Beachwood attempts to recruit more businesses and spur economic development, Doutt, the city's economic development director, said firms in Israel should be among the community's targets.

"Israel is a logical thing for Beachwood to look at," Doutt said. "There's a long-term, longstanding, discernible cultural connection between Beachwood and Israel."

Doutt said there are several biomedical companies in Israel that could deem Beachwood a good fit. His research estimates about 400 new companies in that sector between 2001 and 2011. Those firms could be intrigued by the prospect of supplying and being in proximity to health care institutions like University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic.

Additionally, Doutt plans on coupling Beachwood's to-be-developed incentive framework with a quality-of-life pitch that includes the synagogues and schools that would make for an easier United States transition for executives and employees.

Some of the Beachwood City Council members who took in Doutt's presentation were slightly caught off guard by its focus on Israeli firm recruitment.

"We have heard about (recruiting firms in) Israel, but all of our new reports, everything we've received in the past year hasn't said, 'focus on Israel,'" councilman Brian Linick said, "it said (to) focus on retention in what you have in this community and in this region.

"For me, anyway, seeing 'Assignment: Israel' on the first slide, I guess I'm confused by that."

Doutt said the obvious linkage and potential opportunity between the city and country were too obvious to ignore. Also, Mayor Merle Gorden emphasized that Doutt was only doing what council and the economic development committee told him to do by exploring and developing methods that could be used to attract Israeli companies.

"The focus for economic development, over the years, in Beachwood has been Israel," Gorden said. "That's why Jim targeted Israel first ... I don't think he's focusing solely on Israel."

The city previously contracted Mark Coles, a Beachwood native who has resided in Israel for years, to explore options overseas. Coles owns Ridgeback Business Development, an international economic development connector for private, governmental and non-profit clients. His contract expired this year, but he could play a part in the city's desire to recruit firms in Israel. 

"If you attend a medical conference over there, it's very obvious that (Coles) is one of the people you want to do business with," councilman and economic development committee chair Fred Goodman said. "His range of who he knows is substantial. I don't think there is a better person to work with."

Doutt said the city shouldn't look for startups there, but firms that have a track record and are looking to expand or make a new home in the U.S. Before attracting companies there or in Northeast Ohio, the city plans on creating a job creation incentive program and other tools that will help its cause.

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