A crowd of 200 people poured into Howard County Community College on Tuesday, Nov. 19, for the Maryland/Israel Development Center’s Showcase of Innovation, a program celebrating Israeli companies with offices in Maryland and local companies doing business in and with the Jewish state.
The cocktail hour and round-robin dialogues made for an interesting evening, as high-level executives and professionals networked and discussed high-tech, bio-tech and opportunities for growth.
But the event, which ran from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m., was highlighted by a keynote address from Thomas Feldhausen, director of international operations for Lockheed Martin International.
“The reality is that today you have to be global. We are connected as one global society,” said Feldhausen. “We realized that if we want to continue to grow internationally, if we want partnership and commitment from foreign governments and businesses around the world, we cannot do it from Maryland. We have to work and live with them day in and day out.”
Feldhausen then spoke about the short list of countries that Lockheed Martin, a company that employs 116,000 people worldwide, considered for such a partnership. Israel was at the top of that list. Earlier this month, the defense giant announced plans to open a major subsidiary in Israel that will employ hundreds of people, while simultaneously looking to purchase Israeli companies and integrate itself into the Israeli economy. Feldhausen said he is confident his company is making a good decision.
According to Feldhausen, Israel and Lockheed Martin have a relationship that dates back more than 40 years, to when Lockheed Martin introduced the general dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon to Israel.
“That relationship has continued through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, with a variety of weapons defense systems, information technology and significant partnerships with Israeli industry,” said Feldhausen, noting than in an average year the company does $3.4 billion worth of business with Israel. He said 25 percent of the content of the F-16 is manufactured in Israel, including 100 percent of the wings.
Feldhausen said Lockheed Martin also does business in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Japan. He said staffing in Israel will grow as business grows, but the company expects at some point to employ hundreds of people on the ground in the Jewish state.
“We recognize Israel has been a great partner, and we want to be a great partner with Israel; I think this is key to our growth,” said Feldhausen. “We have had a four-decades-long relationship with Israel. We see another four decades.”
Other companies that were present at the event included 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc., which develops and commercializes technologies and products to detect early-stage cancer and for personalize cancer therapies, Advanced Defense Technologies, a contract manufacturer of wire harnesses and mechanical assemblies, and Altenera Technology Inc., an early-stage company with the mission to rethink wind- energy-generation technology, among others.
The Maryland/Israel Development Center, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and supported by the Maryland and Montgomery County departments of Business and Economic Development, promotes trade and investment between Maryland and Israel to help create jobs in both economies. To learn more about MIDC, visit marylandisrael.org.