About 75% of the approximately 300,000 residents of Judea and Samaria (Yehuda-Shomron) live in the major urban centres of Efrat, Ariel, Givat Zeev, Maaleh Adumin, Alfei Menashe, Givat Zeev, Pisgat Zeev, Beitar Illit and Modi’in Illit.
Where there are urban centres there is concentration of population, which equals local consumer markets.
The second tier of urban centres, with 5,000 or more residents, are Kochav Yaacov, Beit El, Oranit, Kiryat Arba and Karnei Shomron.
A third group includes towns that have between 2,000-3,000 residents: Shilo, Kfar Adumim, Har Adar, Hashmonaim, Adam, Ofra, Eli, Emmanuel, Elkanah, Kedumim, Alon Shevut, Beit Arye and Sha’arei Tikva. The remainder of the 100 or so communities (yishuvim) have under 2,000 residents.
The reason why the urban centres have developed so rapidly and currently make up the overwhelming majority of the population of Yehuda-Shomron is that, unlike in the communal yishuvim, there is no Absorption Committee (vaad klita), which restricts growth. While in the past the yishuvim may have been the spiritual backbone of the settlement enterprise, the cities are where the backbone of the region’s economy developed and where three out of every four Jews living in Yehuda-Shomron reside.
The residents of Yehuda-Shomron need to promote “economic concentration” and that means focusing future growth on the main urban centres. Just like in Israel proper (and everywhere else in the world) where there are urban centres there is concentration of population, which equals local consumer markets.
Economic development in the cities - as well as more new homes in the urban centres - is where all of our efforts should be. Economic development can come to the cities in other sectors - such as more office space, stores, café and fast food chains, Ace Hardware stores, regular and specialized medical services and facilities, tourist attractions, cinemas and bowling alleys, and high-tech services and start ups.
Yehuda-Shomron is Already a Very Attractive Market
There is a huge potential to vastly accelerate the rate of economic and commercial development throughout the urban centers of Yehuda-Shomron. With a natural growth rate of 5.5 percent, this region is already a very attractive commercial market. The only problem is that “corporate Israel” has yet to realize what profitable commercial opportunities exist in these local economies.
As more Israeli corporate entities develop closer business and commercial ties to the urban population centers in Yehuda-Shomron, the more integrated the local market will be with Israel’s national economy. The more economically intertwined Yehuda-Shomron is with Israel’s national economy inside the Green Line, the more secure its political future will be.
Absolutely No Political Risk for Investors
Contrary to popular perception, there is absolutely no political risk in investing in a company based in Yehuda-Shomron. It doesn’t matter where an Israeli company operates or is based, it is treated in exactly the same way by the Corporate Registrar in the Ministry of Justice. If a company is successful and it is no longer useful to remain operating out of Yehuda-Shomron, then the new company can simply relocate to within the Green Line, or even abroad.
Where are the investment opportunities in Yehuda-Shomron for Israeli and Diaspora Jewish investors?
- Gourmet and organic food companies;
- boutique wineries;
- retail outlets and distribution of consumer products;
- knowledge-based software start ups;
- R&D facilities for Israeli high tech companies;
- tourist attractions and hotels;
- private education institutes;
- transportation services;
- specialized medical centres and senior citizen facilities; and
- real estate and housing projects.
Corporate Israel has yet to realize what profitable commercial opportunities exist.
Shomron specifically. There is a very high concentration in that region of engineers, business managers with extensive contacts in Israel’s economy and abroad, as well as skilled manpower of all types. All the ingredients are there to build a world-class network of technology start-ups in Yehuda-Shomron. The only thing missing is the investment capital, from Israel and abroad.
Government subsidies or approval from the Israeli cabinet government are not required for this to begin. All that is needed is private capital, and the awareness amongst the supporters of Yehuda-Shomron that investing in and developing this economy is the key to securing the future of these regions.
Like it is in the large Israeli national economy, there is money to be made by backing Israeli citizens living in Yehuda-Shomron. Ten years ago, foreign investors and most rich Israelis would never dream of investing locally and making good returns. Today, local Israelis are making a lot of money from the success of Israel’s local economy. Ten years ago, if you didn’t export you couldn’t survive. Today, the local Israeli national economy is more of an attraction than exporting. A new untapped commercial market is awaiting corporate Israel.
There is huge potential for Jews in Israel and abroad to make great returns by financially backing their brothers in economic and commercial endeavours. All that is required is a steady stream of capital inflows.