|Pension reform keeps Chafee, Licht in Rhode Island|
|By Voice & Herald Staff|
|Friday, 11 November 2011 00:00|
|Trade mission to Israel proceeds with business leaders|
PROVIDENCE – Richard Licht, chairman of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and director of administration for the State of Rhode Island, told The Voice & Herald that Governor Lincoln Chafee must defer his trade mission to Israel because “pension reform is his major priority.”
The Nov. 4 – 12 trip would have been Chafee’s fourth trip and his 11th, said Licht, in a brief interview on Friday, Oct. 28.
“I was excited to go with him; it would have been an opportunity to see Israel from a different [perspective], with its vibrant economy,” said Licht. “We were eagerly looking forward to the trip, but we both need to be here at this critical juncture to address the pension reform process.”
Staff at the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) said that the RIEDC and the John H. Chafee Center for International Business at Bryant University led the mission; Avi Nevel, president of Nevel International LLC played a key role in coordinating and supporting the trip.
Nineteen entities were represented; all told, some 28 people were expected to participate.
“We’ve worked on this for more than six months,” said Ray Fogarty, executive director of the Chafee Center, of the trip that includes 18-hour work days. Rhode Island does “business with 150 countries – and trade missions are unbelievably time consuming, but there’s always job development and long-term relationships.”
Fogarty added, “We spend a lot of time in relationship-building. We already have a good relationship with the Consul General to Israel [for Bryant’s] World Trade Day. Israel is one of the few countries that commits [to the event] every year. It has to do with Avi Nevel and [Chafee Center employee] Jerry Cohen.”
On Oct. 26, Chafee’s office issued a release announcing the postponement of the trip. “While I was looking forward to a productive business development trip to Israel next month, Rhode Island legislators are working hard to enact historic legislation and I need to remain in Rhode Island to continue to advocate for truly comprehensive pension reform.”
Chafee statement’s acknowledged “the important ties between the United States and Israel, long-time international partners.”
Asked about Chafee’s decision to bypass this trip, Nevel said, “I am disappointed, but I understand that he is committed to going to Israel in the near future, perhaps in 2012. I look forward to it.”
A few days before they departed, Fogarty said, “We’re going to have a good, good trip.”