Akron hosted a high-ranking Israeli official who visited the city this week for the first time.
Yaron Sideman is the newly appointed consul general of Israel to the mid-Atlantic region, which includes Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Kentucky and southern New Jersey.
Sideman met with University of Akron officials, Akron business leaders and city leaders, and attended a Jewish Community Board of Akron meeting Tuesday. He also spoke to a class at Kent State University. He made similar rounds Wednesday in Cleveland.
In an interview after meeting with Mayor Don Plusquellic and other city leaders, Sideman said Akron is an example of a city that has a strong collaboration with Israel. He pointed to the investment by Akron and local business leaders in the Targetech business incubator in Israel, which resulted in several high-tech startups coming to Akron, and to partnerships and the exchange of ideas between the two countries, including new technology relating to protecting water systems.
“I’m pleased just to be here and witness firsthand and talk to the people who made it happen,” he said of the collaborations.
Plusquellic hopes Sideman will make visits to Akron a regular occurrence. He said Sideman “recognizes Akron as a strategic partner in growing businesses in Israel and the United States.”
“The general consul noted during our meeting that nobody else is really doing this,” the mayor said.
Sideman also hopes the ties between the two countries continue. He said he’d like to see student exchanges between the universities in Akron and Israel, as well as more cultural exchanges.
“We need to all put our thinking caps on and explore ways to realize areas of future potential growth,” he said.
Sideman, who is living in Philadelphia with his wife, Tami, and daughter, Tal, 3, has one other wish: He’d like his daughter to be able to see a real snowstorm for the first time. With flurries and continued cold temperatures in the forecast, this wish may come true.