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Hogan trade mission to Israel to pack in business meetings, speeches

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Larry Hogan's second international trade mission as Maryland governor will take him to Israel.

Gov. Larry Hogan will lead a trade mission to Israel this month in hopes of luring cybersecurity and life-science companies to open offices in Maryland, his administration announced Wednesday.

The seven-day mission, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 19, is to include a mix of business deals, speeches, meetings with dignitaries and sightseeing.

It will be the governor's first international trip since his cancer diagnosis more than a year ago, which came immediately after his administration's first trade mission, to Asia.

Hogan and about 35 business leaders, academics and state officials plan to visit Beersheva, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

A detailed itinerary was not released, but officials said it includes a meeting with the country's former president, Shimon Peres, and speeches to business leaders at the U.S. Embassy and at a conference of entrepreneurs at Tel Aviv University. They said Hogan might also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The governor, a first-term Republican, will also receive a homeland security briefing from the chief of the Israeli police's anti-terror unit, Maryland officials said. Hogan will visit several cultural landmarks, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross, the Western Wall and Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum.

More than a dozen U.S. governors have visited Israel in recent years to promote their state's businesses and markets.

A trip to the Middle East is also a resume-builder for politicians aspiring to higher office. Hogan's recent approval ratings place him among the most popular governors in the country, but he has brushed off supporters' suggestions he run for the White House.

The Israel trip has been organized by the Maryland/Israel Development Center, which works with the Maryland Department of Commerce.

The center's executive director, Barry Bogage, said that Israel's strong cybersecurity and life-science sectors make it a good match for bilateral trade with Maryland.

"For Maryland to have an economically vibrant economy, that's got to include outreach to the global market," Bogage said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday.

"We need to go where the business opportunities are and where the customers are, and Israel is a great place for that."

Hogan traveled last year to China, Japan and South Korea.

Hogan's Israel mission is the sixth Bogage has arranged for a Maryland governor or lieutenant governor. Martin O'Malley visited the country in 2013.

Bogage, who plans to accompany Hogan, said that any good marketing strategy involves a continual push.

"In order to be in the game, we've got to go, we've got to be represented, and there's no one better to do that than the governor," he said. Business leaders in the delegation will pay their own way, a state official said. The cost to the state for Hogan and several cabinet secretaries to attend is $120,000. First lady Yumi Hogan will not make the trip.

State officials would not release a complete list of businesses with whom the governor plans to meet. They released the names of some delegation members:

•Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn

•Commerce Secretary Michael Gill

•David Trudil of Brimrose Corp., whose company recently won a research and development grant to collaborate with an Israeli company.

•Steve Shapiro with eHealth Ventures, which is setting up a digital health incubator in Israel.

•Dr. Jay Perman, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

•Christy Wyskiel, senior adviser to the president of the Johns Hopkins University

•Abba Poliakoff, chairman of the Baltimore Jewish Council

•Michael Friedman of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington

•Bogage and Steve Dubin, chairman of the Maryland/Israel Development Center

ecox@baltsun.com

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