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THE VIRGINIA ISRAEL ADVISORY BOARD (VIAB)

The primary mission of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) is to increase jobs in Virginia by encouraging Israeli companies to locate their businesses here.  VIAB also advises the Governor on ways to improve economic and cultural links between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Israel. 

Our JCRC works with the statewide Jewish community to support the Virginia Israel Advisory Board  (VIAB) that has added approximately 1,134 new jobs Virginia’s workforce that in turn have generated an estimated $38.4 million in state tax revenues over the past 10 years.  In FY2010, VIAB contributed to the growth of 114 new jobs, generating $410,400 in tax revenues, or a 322% return on investment from the Commonwealth’s budget for VIAB that has been cut below $130,000. VIAB projects that the current pipeline of activities will bring 555 new jobs to Virginia over the next 1-3 years, translating into $2 million in additional state tax revenues.

While Israeli companies grew jobs in Virginia, exports from Virginia to Israel have also seen a dramatic jump.  According to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, Virginia’s exports to Israel were $65 million in 2006 and grew to $121 million in 2008.  In today’s economic environment, the Commonwealth needs more proven investments like VIAB.  The Jewish Community Relations Council strongly supports funding of VIAB as a sound investment in Virginia’s economic future.

2010 VIAB Top Accomplishments and Ongoing 2011 Initiatives:

  • Assisted in the opening of a new Sabra food processing plant in Chesterfield, VA which is projected to employ 260 new workers in 2010.  In 2011 Sabra anticipates 40 additional jobs while the company also considers transferring its U.S. headquarters from New York.
  • Following the Sabra plant opening, VIAB is assisting the VA Department of Agriculture, Virginia State University and the company to develop a “Sabra Chickpea,” that the University projects could lead to employment for 10,000 farm workers in Virginia over time.[1]
  • VIAB was instrumental in creating the “Virginia Israel Bio Sciences Commercialization Center,” in Richmond in 2007.  Now called Virginia Life Science Investments (VLSI), this privatized entity supports Israeli Life Science companies’ initial access to U.S. markets using the resources of the Virginia BioTech Park.  There are now 12 Israeli companies at VLSI that have raised $18 million in private equity to fund R&D commercialization.  These companies anticipate adding 30 new jobs through 2012. 
  • Working with 2 large Israeli Defense contractors to establish facilities in Northern Virginia that are projected to add 300 jobs over 1-3 years.
  • Pursuing partnerships between Dominion Power and AMDOCS, Israel’s +$3 billion leader in automated cell phone billing systems, to significantly upgrade utility billing.  The companies are also investigating applications to support electric cars and smart grid growth in the Commonwealth.
  • Bringing 5-8 “best fit” Israeli companies to join Dominion’s CleanTech Commercialization Center, modeled from VIAB’s successful VLSI initiative listed above. 
  • Initiating direct Tel Aviv – Dulles flights in partnership with the Airports Authority, Fairfax Economic Development Authority and Continental-United Airlines.  Completion of a direct airlink is estimated to have the same regional economic impact as an industrial complex investment valuing $300 million.

 


[1] “Projections by Virginia State University Professor Har bans Bhardwaj must be discounted since not all of the chickpea production will be net additional agricultural production.  On the other hand, migration to chickpea production will always be migration from a lower to a higher value added crop.” Source: Virginia Israel Advisory Board 2010 Annual Report.