Historic Agreement Establishes New Innovation Embassy Between Ports Located in Israel and New Orleans
Partnership establishes connection between Port of Ashdod and consortium of New Orleans organizations and companies
NEW ORLEANS – Representatives from the Port of Ashdod, located south of Tel Aviv, Israel, and leaders from five Greater New Orleans business organizations have signed a Letter of Intent which formally begins an innovation embassy between these locations. This program was born out of a trade mission to Israel by representatives from New Orleans earlier this year, and will focus on nurturing startup technologies from both locations for modernizing the operations for the trade and logistics industry sector.
“This partnership capitalizes on legacy industries that have driven each of these economies for centuries, while leaning into the growth opportunities that emerging technologies can create for the future,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The participating Israeli and Louisiana startups will have a unique opportunity to work with global leaders in port operations, while being exposed to growth best practices from their counterparts and entrepreneurship ecosystem leadership. This collaboration is a direct result of the visit to Israel last summer, and demonstrates the value in exploring locations that pose mutual economic benefit for each other.”
The Letter of Intent strives to strengthen the relationship between the New Orleans parties and the Ashdod port by exploring opportunities to collaborate in innovative projects with a focus on knowledge sharing, joint business development and potential development of dual infrastructure.
One such project includes the Ashdod Port Accelerator Program which will incorporate cutting-edge technology into its partnership with the New Orleans coalition through an “innovation embassy.” This program will focus on driving growth within the maritime industry in Louisiana, support promising early-stage entrepreneurs, and maximizing efficiency on the lower Mississippi River. Israeli and Louisiana companies participating in the innovation embassy include startups with the mission of improving maritime operations.
“The Port of New Orleans welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Port of Ashdod and our Greater New Orleans area economic development partners,” said Brandy D. Christian, Port NOLA President and CEO. “We share common goals in maintaining and building state-of-the-art infrastructure, continuing to innovate diverse supply chain solutions, and advancing technologies to strengthen our positions as vital gateways to international commerce.”
This partnership was forged during a 2022 trade mission to Israel hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, which featured multi-sector exposure for participating companies from Louisiana. This trip offered knowledge sharing in several targeted industries, presenting participants with new potential business relationships in a new global market.
“Louisiana has a rich history of being a logistics leader and continues to offer unparalleled infrastructure for international trade,” said Harrison Crabtree, Director of the World Trade Center New Orleans. “The partnership with the Port of Ashdod ensures that Louisiana will remain competitive on the global stage, fostering a robust international trade community that supports our state’s status as the ‘gateway to North America’.”
The Port of New Orleans and Port of Ashdod are global leaders in trade and logistics, each handling millions of tons in cargo each year. The Port of New Orleans is a primary gateway for international trade and commerce for the country, connecting the United States with the world through its Mississippi River access and extensive rail and highway networks. It is one of the busiest ports in the country and plays a vital role in the economic development of the Greater New Orleans region.
“The Ashdod Port Company continues to act vigorously to expand collaborations on innovation with the world’s leading ports,” stated Orna Hozman Bechor, the Chairlady of the Board of Directors of the Ashdod Port. “The Israeli innovation that we foster in our technology incubators has a great deal to offer in a variety of fields that will make the world of shipping and ports more efficient, commencing with the field of logistics and transportation and up to and including control systems and green energy. Expanding the activity of the startups to leading ports around the world is an important milestone for reinforcing the international, technological, and economic connections of the startups and their ventures, as well as of the Port of Ashdod and the entire State of Israel as the startup nation. As Israel’s national port, we are proud to nurture the spread of Israeli innovation overseas.”
Similarly, the Port of Ashdod in Israel is a major hub for international trade and commerce, connecting the Mediterranean region with the rest of the world. Both ports are substantial as they provide vital infrastructure and resources to support the growth of local businesses, industries, and the economy.
“NOLABA is thrilled to work in collaboration with other economic development organizations and local partners in support of this alliance with the Ashdod Port Accelerator Program,” said Lynnette White-Colin, Sr. Vice President of Small Business Growth at New Orleans Business Alliance. “The creation of an innovation embassy will aid in substantially increasing global economic opportunities for Port NOLA. And most exciting are the opportunities for local startups to engage in developing technological advances that will drive accelerated growth in our maritime industry and more expansive operations for the Port of New Orleans.”
During the program, visiting port officials and startups will be integrated into the regional business community by New Orleans Business and Alliance and Greater New Orleans, Inc., who will each showcase the market as a great place to do business with a supportive commercial environment. South Louisiana is known for its collaborative and supportive culture, and Greater New Orleans is well-equipped to assist companies with resources such as assistance with real estate selection, guidance through incentives on the state and local level, collaboration on development of workforce programming, and publicity of an expansion into the region.
“This letter of intent represents the type of collaboration between larger industry and startups that we need to move our region forward as a world class innovation hub,” said Jon Atkinson, CEO of Idea Village. “We look forward to working with the port and the other signatories to develop the type of key infrastructure that allows startups to go from prototype to full scale commercialization here in the New Orleans region.”
Both Ashdod and Greater New Orleans have thriving entrepreneurship ecosystems, and this partnership will help to further strengthen and support their growth, while providing opportunities for participating startups to access new markets, technologies, and resources. Each are home to several accelerators, incubators, and co-working spaces that provide support to early-stage companies, with the Port of Ashdod being home to an innovation center that helps grow these new ventures on premises.
“Jones Walker is honored to serve as the connector for this momentous partnership between the Greater New Orleans Region and the Port of Ashdod,” said Bill Hines, Managing Partner of Jones Walker LLP. “This is exactly the kind of collaboration that we hoped would develop from the trade mission to Israel that we all participated in this past summer together. The people of Israel share our zest for life and desire to advance our economy, and I am optimistic that this is only the beginning of many decades of cooperation and business opportunities between New Orleans and Israel.”
Jones Walker, one of main sponsors of last year’s trade mission, is serving a role as the local host for visiting startup participants from Port of Ashdod throughout the partnership. Leadership from the firm selected local startups who will participate in this experience, in addition to developing high-caliber programming throughout the full program.
This partnership marks the third location for the Port of Ashdod, which already has collaborated with the Port of Barcelona and New Jersey to bring Israeli innovation to Europe and the United States. The Port of Ashdod will expand its reach and impact in the United States through this partnership with Greater New Orleans and looks forward to the potential collaborations that will come from this initiative.
About World Trade Center New Orleans
The World Trade Center New Orleans (WTCNO) fosters economic development across Louisiana through the support, promotion, and attraction of international trade and businesses. The WTCNO works through business development, membership engagement, and advocacy to advanced trade and foreign direct investment across Louisiana. Learn more at https://wtcno.org/.