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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Between the VIP lineup of business conference speakers and workshop presenters, and the breathtaking breadth of international businesses on the expo floor, the 2017 J-Biz Expo and Business Conference, held on Thursday at the New Jersey Expo Center in Edison, was clearly the place to be for empowerment.

Mark Levenson, a prestigious real estate attorney at Sills, Cummins and Gross, and chairman of the New Jersey-Israel Commission, shared golden nuggets of insight gleaned from his decades in the business world. However, beyond conventional business-success metrics, Mr. Levenson stressed the need to be grateful to those who helped you succeed, and to in turn help others succeed through networking and mentoring.

This concept is the cornerstone of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce and J-Biz Expo, which unites successful businesses from around the globe, helping them as well as other businesses and entrepreneurs around the globe see even greater success. Duvi Honig, founder and CEO of the Chamber, detailed the Chamber mission and thanked its myriad high-powered partners and projects that make the network so effective. “We look forward to empowering everyone throughout the year,” Duvi vowed.

The VIPs Speak

Tall and poised, Paul J. Massey Jr. of Cushman and Wakefield, and New York City mayoral candidate, stepped up the dais, sitting in a comfortable white armchair alongside Aaron Klein, Jerusalem Bureau Chief for Breitbart News. Aaron marveled at Duvi Honig’s passion for his work. “I was part of the Chamber’s conference at the U.N. weeks before the anti-Israel resolution passed, and saw the Chamber’s reception at the Knesset,” he related. “The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce is going straight to the top of American Jewish organizations.”

Responding to questions from Mr. Klein and audience members, Mr. Massey shared more details about his incredible journey from a struggling-class household in Boston to co-founding a giant New York City real estate brokerage powerhouse with a mere $150 in his pocket, as well as his vision for the Big Apple mayoralty. He spoke of his constant motivation to grow his firm, to focus on a niche and to forge strong communal ties in the neighborhood it serves—which is serving him very well in his current political endeavors. “I feel connected to the Jewish community,” he summed up.

A major aspect of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce’s international focus relates to strengthening the ties between the United States and Israel, and their respective business communities, through networking, public policy efforts and the battle against the BDS movement. The J-Biz Expo clearly reflected that, with the Israeli Economic Ministry, in addition to El Al and various Israeli small and midsize businesses, exhibiting at the event.

Mrs. Odeleya Jacobs, the Chamber’s VP of business development and public policy, spoke of the organization’s incredible ability to “really move things along,” and elaborated upon its strong U.S.-Israel focus. Mrs. Jacobs introduced the next guest speaker, Israel Consul General in New York Dani Dayan, whom she termed a “breath of fresh air.”

The ambassador stressed Israel’s enormous economic success in recent years, particularly in the hi-tech sector. He noted that no less than Warren Buffett himself recently advised investors to invest in Israeli bonds. American and Israeli businesses have so much to gain from each other. “Investing in Israel is no longer about philanthropy,” he said. “It’s about making money.”

The final speaker of the conference was the Chamber Chairman J. Morton Davis, the legendary senior Wall Street guru of DH Blair Investment Corporation. Mr. Davis spoke glowingly about the incredible inventions over the past century in technology, transportation, medicine and more—completely transforming the quality of life and longevity of people today. “Funding startups is good capitalism,” he advised. “Bet on the right person who has a ‘disruptive’ idea.”

The B2B Floor

It’s hard to describe in words the energy and motivated interaction on the J-Biz Expo floor from when the doors opened until when the booths were dismantled following closing time. A highly diverse cross section of the Jewish business world—men and women, of all backgrounds, from neighborhoods across the country and the world—were talking, showcasing and exchanging information. Relationships were formed, contacts were made and an incalculable number of leads and tips were shared.

The 2017 Expo’s targeted, laser-like focus on business service-providers was evident. The exhibitors’ offerings were extremely diverse—e-commerce, software, marketing, design, payroll, insurance, lending, outsourcing, investing, payroll processing, souvenirs, media and much more—yet they were all services that other entrepreneurs and businesses could take advantage of. Companies like CHS Payroll, Benchmark Platinum payment processor, and AmTrust were among the most prominent booths.

Vendor after vendor spoke glowingly of the many “quality conversations” they held with attendees. The 2017 J-Biz attendee was serious, down-to-business and had a genuine interest in many of the services on the floor.

Throughout the floor, there were attendees, many of whom just met for the first time, congregating and discussing their ventures, ideas and experiences. This was in addition to the various seminars on the floor throughout the day by personalities such as Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg, Ron Benvenisti, David Koegel, Avi and Ira Rosenthal and Anthony Awerbuch.

There was a buzzing Women in the Workforce section in the center of the floor, where female entrepreneurs connected and learned from each other, in addition to a steady rotation of shows by business mentalist Mark Garfinkel, sponsored by Misameach. In yet another corner of the floor, leading business coaches Allan Glazer, who arranged the section, Victor Brief, David Stern, Deena Nahari and Deborah Galant, MBA, sat at small tables engaged in one-on-one conversations with attendees at no charge. This service was dedicated l’iluy nishmat Yehudis, a”h, bat Rav Shalom Storch, shlit”a, who was tragically nifteret recently.

“People came to the Expo with positive energy,” surmised e-commerce consultant Avi Rosenthal of Rosy Deals, who was both an exhibitor and workshop presenter. “It was a very interactive crowd that was thirsty for knowledge and growth.”

By Shimmy Blum