On Monday, January 28, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans was delighted to collaborate with a number of community organizations for a special evening on trade and economic development with Governor John Bel Edwards. Hosted by the University of New Orleans, the event followed Gov. Edwards’ trip to Israel last fall, and featured the Governor discussing both his travel experience and his vision for the trade partnership between Louisiana and Israel in the future.
The Governor’s remarks were preceded by a panel discussion featuring Commissioner of the Division of Administration for the State of Louisiana, Jay Dardenne; President and CEO of The Water Institute of the Gulf, Justin Ehrenwerth; and Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for the Port of New Orleans, Robert Landry. Matt Houston, the legislative reporter for WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge, moderated the panel.
Ehrenwerth spoke at length about how both Louisiana and Israel can participate in information sharing and best practices on the critical issue of water management. Bobby Landry discussed trade traffic between the Port of New Orleans and Israel’s major ports, and how Louisiana can benefit from amplifying business relationships with Israel. Jay Dardenne spoke on the issue of start-ups, and how Israel both prioritizes and incentivizes them – a paradigm he feels can be applied to some degree across Louisiana to benefit small businesses and entrepreneurship.
All three panelists shared meaningful personal experiences they had on the trip, from meeting IDF soldiers, celebrating mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and praying at the Western Wall.
Governor Edwards then took the stage to debrief the attendees, sharing both his personal reflections on the trip and his ideas for future economic partnerships. For him, the experience was a working trip, with 22 meetings over the 4-day visit. These included a meeting with Israel Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, which lasted over an hour. Of personal significance were his visits to the Golan Heights, from which he could see Syria, and the holiness of the country. He later took audience questions, engaging directly with those in attendance.
Special thanks to our co-sponsors: ADL, AIPAC, GNO, Inc., Israel's Consulate General to the Southwest United States, National Council of Jewish Women: Greater New Orleans Section, the New Orleans Business Alliance, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce, the Port of New Orleans, Tulane University, and the World Trade Center New Orleans.