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The Montana World Trade Center at the University of Montana and Lt. Governor John Bohlinger will lead about 20 people on an international business development mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem May 29 through June 3.

"Israel is one of America's largest trading partners and one of the most educated, entrepreneurial and innovative societies on earth," Bohlinger said. "We look forward to forging relationships on this trip that will help Montana businesses sell to new markets, and also lay groundwork for recruiting Israel's renowned energy-related and high-tech businesses to Montana."

The trade mission will include one-on-one meetings between Montana businesses and potential or existing Israeli customers, aimed at consummating sales agreements, cultivating new relationships, and developing stronger ties with existing clients.

Representatives from Sen. Max Baucus's trade team will also accompany the delegation, in a collaborative effort to support Montana's business initiatives in-country.

"Strengthening our partnerships with Israel's businesses is an important part of growing Montana's economy," said Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "From alternative energy solutions to ground-breaking technologies, great things are happening within Montana and Israeli companies. These businesses attract investments from all over the world because they are on the cutting edge of innovation. I know that working together they'll boost exports and create good-paying jobs for the hardworking people of both of our great countries."

MWTC Executive Director Arnie Sherman sees great potential in the trip to Israel. "The fact that this small country has more companies listed on NASDAQ than any other outside North America speaks volumes," he said. "It illustrates how important it is for Montana to develop relationships - both business and academic - in this region, particularly with its access to Eastern Europe and Africa. Montana exports to Israel have been increasing as of late, and we want to build on that positive trend."

Montana companies and organizations on the mission include: Cleanwaste (Bozeman), Link Communications (Billings), Cherry Tree Design/American Design Source (Bozeman), the Milky Whey/TMW International (Missoula), Ecosystem Research Group (Missoula), the Montana Environmental and Engineering Consortium (Missoula), the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center (Bozeman), Monster Munchies (Bozeman, by phone) and the University of Montana's International Programs.

MWTC is a UM program operating in cooperation with universities throughout Montana. It helps state businesses establish or strengthen their international commercial capabilities.

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