Rhode Island can expect a boost in exports due to a state-sponsored trade mission to Israel that saw 26 local business and government representatives spend nine days forging and fortifying commercial connections between the Middle Eastern country and the Ocean State, according to executives who participated.
Daniel Dwight, president and CEO of the Cooley Group in Pawtucket, said he expects the trade mission will generate “millions” of dollars of business for his company. “We’re real excited,” Dwight said. “It was an excellent trip for us.”
Robert “Brad” Mitchell, CEO of Virtual DBS Inc. in North Kingstown, expects roughly $200,000 in sales from the new connections he made in Israel. “We won’t know for sure until about 18 months from now,” Mitchell added, when agreements will be finalized.
Both businessmen gave high marks to the organizers and sponsors of the trade mission, the R.I. Economic Development Corporation and the Chafee Center for International Business/World Trade Center housed at Bryant University. Both said they would go on more trade missions in the future.
“It was very business-focused,” Mitchell said. “I’d recommend it to any other company.”
Raymond W. Fogarty, director of the Chafee center, said the Nov. 4 to Nov. 13 trade mission saw the visiting Rhode Islanders work “grueling” 12-to-15-hour days and nights, usually starting with 7:30 a.m. breakfast sessions followed by all-day meetings that, Dwight said, sometimes ended as late as midnight or 1 a.m.
No one treated it as a junket, Fogarty maintained, noting that participants “squeezed ourselves into coach,” foregoing first-class to save money. Business representatives paid their own way, while a federal grant covered the $20,000 aggregate cost for six government officials.
All the businesses profited from the trade mission, according to Fogarty. “Every one [of the 11 companies on the trip] came away with a sale in the end,” he told Providence Business News. Exact figures on the total financial impact of the mission should be ready in about a month, Fogarty said.