Gov. says trade mission to Israel successful


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gov. Gary Herbert says his weeklong trade mission to Israel to promote Utah as a business and tourism destination exceeded his expectations.

Herbert told reporters about his trip during a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

Herbert flew to the country last week with a contingent of Utah business people who paid their own costs.

The trip wrapped up Monday after visits to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and meetings with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Herbert also visited the West Bank and met with the outgoing Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

Fayyad indicated that he wants to return the visit and bring a delegation of Palestinian business leaders to Utah, Herbert said.

Herbert's trip was initially scheduled for last December but canceled due to security risks associated with unrest on the Gaza Strip.

The trip was important to explore research and development in Israel, promote business and tourism ties to Utah and establish diplomatic relationships, he said.

"I believe that over years to come, we're going to see some significant benefit from this trade mission," Herbert said.

The head of one Israeli startup, a data storage company called Infinidat, expressed an interest in opening a data center in Utah, said Mel Lavitt, chariman of the board of the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

"I think that we will see other Israeli companies knocking on our door, and something that will continue, and we'll work hard to make it happen," Lavitt said.

Utah's young, tech-savvy and multilingual population makes it a great market for foreign companies, such as those from Israel, but the state needs to make sure it's getting that message out there, Herbert said.

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