By Denver Business Journal

A Colorado delegation's weeklong economic development mission to Israel was "a success on all fronts -- business, academic and research," said Gov. Bill Ritter, who led the group.

⿿We created a solid foundation for future economic activity, set the stage for immediate follow-up meetings in Colorado and laid the groundwork for long-term collaboration. I⿿m confident this mission will lead to increased jobs, investments and economic growth for Colorado,⿝ Ritter said in a statement upon the group's return from the July 12-18 trip.

Ritter's group met with Israeli President Shimon Peres; Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin (Fuad) Ben-Eliezer; Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau; and Deputy Foreign Minister and former ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon, among other officials.

In a statement, Ayalon applauded Colorado's interest in establishing cooperation with Israeli companies on such matters as renewable energy and water conservation.

"Renewable energy is the solution to the oil problem, and offers a solution to the reduction of negative oil politics around the world. Delegations such as these are important in strengthening the relationship of the people of Israel and the United States, and in the strengthening of future economic cooperation," Ayalon told Ritter during their meeting.

Among the accomplishments of the mission as cited by Ritter's staff:

â¿¢ The Colorado delegation agreed to help establish workforce-development ties among Noble Energy Inc., the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) and Colorado School of Mines. "Last year, Noble Energy discovered a vast natural gas reserve off the coast of Israel, but the country lacks the workforce to develop the resource," Ritter's office said in a statement.

In a statement, Houston-based Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) -- which has a Denver office -- calls the Tamar natural-gas find "the largest exploration discovery in the history of Noble Energy, as well as the largest conventional gas discovery in the world in 2009."

â¿¢ Ritter and Ben-Eliezer signed a bilateral agreement between Colorado and Israel to advance research and collaboration between companies and institutions in both areas.

â¿¢ Colorado State University and Ben Gurion Universityâ¿¿s Desert Research Center signed a collaborative agreement on water-conservation and related technologies.

â¿¢ The State of Colorado, through its Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Desert Agro Research Center focused on water and agriculture research and development in arid and semi-arid climates. The agreement focuses on such water technologies as desalination, treatment and conservation.

â¿¢ The Governorâ¿¿s Energy Office entered an agreement with BrightSource Energy to examine whether cogeneration technologies involving large-scale concentrated solar and natural gas can be utilized on projects in Colorado. Oakland, Calif.-based BrightSource officials will be in Colorado later this month to begin those discussions.

â¿¢ Ritter, Colorado Economic Development Director Don Marostica and state Energy Director Tom Plant met with a number of Israeli clean-energy, water-technology, bioscience and venture-capital companies that may be interested in doing business in Colorado.

â¿¢ Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Stulp promoted Colorado beef exports to Israeli officials, some of whom will be in Colorado next month for livestock discussions.

â¿¢ Colorado Chief Operating Officer Don Elliman met with Israeli officials regarding homeland security, including discussions about an upcoming homeland security expo taking place in Denver later this year.

â¿¢ The delegation visited Ramat Negev, the Allied Jewish Federation of Coloradoâ¿¿s "partnership region" in Israel, where Ritter and the delegation were hosted by Mayor Shmulik Rifman.

The privately-supported trip was sponsored by the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado. A state ethics panel created under voter-approved Amendment 41, which bars gifts of more than $50 to public officials, agreed to participation by Ritter and other state employees in the trip in a ruling beforehand.

"The mission was a great success for Colorado citizens,⿝ Doug Seserman, CEO of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, said in a statement. ⿿We look forward to working with both Colorado and Israel in the months and years ahead to further the business relationships built on this trip.⿝

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