Strengthening links between R.I. and Israel

Avi Nevel and his wife relocated to Rhode Island from Israel 33 years ago. Since then, he served as co-owner, CEO and president of Central Falls-based Lawson-Hemphill – a textile-industry machine manufacturer – but kept seeking ways to link his two homes.

He said the state is home to roughly 18,000 Jews, and most of the economic ties with Israel had been built in previous “private initiatives.”

After three trade missions to Israel – what Nevel called “a startup nation” – he founded the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative in June to focus on strengthening the economic, academic and research connections between companies in Rhode Island and Israel. Future exchanges are encouraged by RIIC programming, including seminars with Israeli chefs and an upcoming event discussing blockchain technology.

Nevel said he chooses “cutting-edge” topics to draw attention to RIIC. “One of our weaknesses is [Israelis] don’t know about Rhode Island,” he said.

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RIIC is planning a fourth trade mission to Israel in ­December.