Over 500 new jobs to be created in eastern Negev

Over a dozen factories and businesses will be established or expanded, bringing employment to hundreds in the South this year.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and Minister of Economy Eli Cohen announced at a press conference Monday that their ministries will help establish or enlarge 15 factories and businesses in the eastern Negev region, adding 514 new jobs, The Marker reported.

The aid is principally in the form of NIS 81 million in grants, to be given to businesses that are planning to invest NIS 273 million themselves in the area. They are mostly traditional industries such as metal, furniture, food, etc. But one of the businesses, to be established in Arad, is a call center in the insurance field, where 75 people will have jobs. These are all in what the ministries are calling the “Eastern Negev track,” which does not require them to export their goods.

However, two are in the “Grants Track,” which helps companies that do export. One of these is Elbit Systems Land and C4I Ltd., which manufactures communications equipment and battle-management systems for security forces. Also in Arad, it will be expanding its offices and employing 88 new people.

The region of Dimona, Arad and Yerucham, towns with 10,000 to 30,000 residents each, currently has a level of unemployment that is double that of the country as a whole – 7.5% vs. 4%. The Finance and Economy ministries have recognized that the eastern Negev cannot rely on the Dead Sea Works alone, and that the lack of job opportunities is one of the main reasons that the Negev is losing young people to the center of the country. These grants are part of the government’s efforts to stem, and possibly even reverse, that tide.