Meet Barry Bogage

Barry Bogage: 25 Years Heading the MIDC

Barry Bogage decided it was time for a career change. For years, he worked in the economic development realm in Maryland and in Wales, United Kingdom but now he wanted to pursue a dream. He decided to become a rabbi.

But as fate would have it, one year into rabbinical school in Israel, Barry received a phone call from Eric Feldmann, his former boss at the Howard County Department of Economic Development who had become Governor Schaefer's Director of International Trade. "He told me the state was forming a new organization and I'd be perfect for the role of executive director," recalls Barry. 

his former boss at the Howard County Department of Economic Development who had become Governor Schaefer’s Director of International Trade, Barry, said Eric Feldmann, the state is forming a new organization and you’d be perfect for the role of executive director.

That organization was the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC). Twenty-five years later, Barry still sits at the helm of this public-private partnership between Maryland’s Department of Commerce, Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Trade and The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

On Sunday, May, 7, MIDC, whose mission is to promote bi-lateral trade between Israel and Maryland, will celebrate its 25th anniversary. And Barry will receive the Hanan Y. Sibel Maryland/Israel Business Leadership Award for 25 years of dedication and professional excellence.

For Barry, it’s been a rewarding quarter century. Whether it’s leading five Gubernatorial Trade Missions to Israel, bringing dozens of Israeli businesses to Maryland or pioneering programs to help Israeli entrepreneurs and emerging high tech companies create jobs, Barry’s passion for Israel and business expertise helped MIDC successfully connect companies and entrepreneurs for economic success.

The trajectory hasn’t always been easy. There was the heyday of the 90s and the dot.com bubble, when Israeli high-tech businesses thrived, to the hard times after the dot.com crash, followed by 9/11, the intifadas and the 2008 economic downtown. Yet as the economy turned around, once again, MIDC brought Israeli businesses to Maryland.

Today, Elta, a billion-dollar company which makes the radar systems for the Iron Dome anti-missile system, Vaya Pharmaceuticals, which develops medicinal foods for impairment disorders such as ADHD, and Roboteam, manufacturer of unmanned robots, are among those that make their U.S. headquarters here.

Success, Barry says, is two-fold. Building strong relationships sits at the core. Over the years, he’s assisted Israeli business leaders with everything from meeting customers and investors to finding the right home and school for their children.

And when it came to Elta, relationships were instrumental in helping them land in Maryland. He recalls the day a friend at the Israeli embassy contacted him to tell him company executives were in town looking for a new headquarters. But the executives were leaving the next day. Barry immediately called them and within 24 hours was at their hotel having breakfast. Two years later, and with the support of the state’s political leaders, Elta held the grand opening for their new North American headquarters in Maryland.

The other key to success, Barry says is follow-up. “I live and die by follow-up. It’s easy to attend keep to go to meetings. But if it’s a successful meeting, there has to be follow-up.”

Moving forward, Barry is looking for that niche to make Maryland more competitive with the high-tech communities of Boston and the Silicon Valley. He’s investigating projects, including a National Science Foundation program that would bring Israeli entrepreneurs here to train them on U.S. business development. If they develop relationships here, we are bound to land several businesses, he says.

Through it all, he thanks The Associated and the early community leaders for being forward-thinking to take on this project. And he sees it as a win-win for both.

“MIDC has been a great way to engage businessmen and women from high-tech industries who may not have been as interested in The Associated’s social service work. Once they get to know us, they become supporters.”

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