MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with Israeli business leaders Monday in Tel Aviv as part of his four-day trade mission to help boost the state’s economy and solidify its bonds with Israel.
Governor DeSantis met with a military and defense technologies development firm, a digital intelligence platform developer, a financial services firm and an agricultural research firm specializing in plant disease solutions.
DeSantis also took part in a briefing with Yuval Rotem, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held a media availability with members of the Florida press.
“Today, I met with several Israeli companies to discuss Florida’s business advantages and why they should invest in the Sunshine State,” said Governor DeSantis. “Florida’s welcoming business climate and top-ranked university system make Florida the ideal location for investment and expanding business.”
DeSantis also attended a recognition ceremony at Ariel University, where he received an Honorary Fellowship Award for his dedication, leadership and commitment to the State of Israel. This award is the highest honor ever to be bestowed on an American Governor by the University, according to the Governor’s office.
“I promised to be the most pro-Israel Governor in America and I sincerely thank Ariel University for presenting me the Honorary Fellowship Award,” said Governor DeSantis. “This recognition means a lot and I am humbled to be the recipient. Let it be known that Florida will always stand with Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East.”
“Having Governor DeSantis here with us today signals a new way forward,” said Ariel University President Yehuda Danon. “He represents a new hope – an honest and committed voice – for not just the people of the great state of Florida, but for all of us. Our university has a standing connection with Florida and are fortunate to have many great friends and supporters there.”
The event also included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Florida Atlantic University and Ariel University. The two universities will develop exchange opportunities for scholars and students alike, and explore co-operative research opportunities.
“Today marks the beginning of an important opportunity for long-term collaboration between Ariel University and Florida Atlantic University,” said FAU President John Kelly. “This Memorandum of Understanding will result in partnerships between faculty, facilitate student exchange opportunities and initiate joint research projects in areas ranging from medicine and human health issues to disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and addiction research.”
The future of Florida’s space industry was also a hot topic as the Governor participated in a Memorandum of Understanding signing between Space Florida and the Israel Space Agency at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.
“Today, we are here to initiate a partnership that will benefit the space industries of both Florida and Israel,” said Governor DeSantis. “I want to thank the leaders from the Israel Space Agency for joining us to offer an opportunity to increase collaborative research, provide educational enrichment for our students and drive innovation like never before.”
“Space Florida is excited to collaborate with the Israel Space Agency in critical endeavors that mutually benefit both Israel and Florida,” said Space Florida President and CEO Frank DiBello. “As we highlight and seek solutions to bio-agriculture and water issues, the goal is to inspire and encourage students to seek scientific solutions and encouragement from this international partnership.”
Sunday night, DeSantis addressed 100 of the state’s top legislative policymakers, lobbyists, business brokers and academic leaders.
The agenda includes learning how Israel feeds its population of 9 million, manages limited water resources and keeps schools secure.
A pool report organized by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors says some delegates will take side trips, focusing on issues close to their constituents’ needs.
Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, whose district includes Parkland, hopes to learn about school security.
Agricultural Commissioner Nikki Fried is seeking information on agriculture and water management.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)