Once upon a time, the Negev was a barren wilderness, far from the excitement of the information revolution. But no more. You may still see camels in Be’er Sheva, but they are likely to be on their way to the city’s new high-tech park.
“From no high-tech jobs in the Negev, Be’er Sheva is becoming a high-tech powerhouse in Israel,” proclaimed Be’er Sheva Mayor Rubik Danilovich at the launching of the high-tech center.
Danilovich seized the opportunity to name-drop.
“The high-tech industry’s center of gravity is moving to Be’er Sheva, with the IDF C4I Corps and Military Intelligence Unit 8200, and IBM has announced that it will set up its cyber laboratory in the city, and it is no coincidence,” said Danilovich. “In the U.S., you find Silicon Valley; we will be satisfied for Be’er Sheva to be Silicon Wadi.”
The mayor was speaking at a press conference hosted by IDB Holding Corp unit Bayside Land Corp. (Gav Yam), the Be’er Sheva Municipality, and Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
The Gav Yam Industrial Park Negev is owned by Bayside (56%), the Be’er Sheva Municipality, and Ben Gurion University (22%), and KUD, a consortium of U.S. and Japanese investors, according to Globes.
Bayside CEO Avi Jacobovitz predicted big things too: “The park will be at least as successful as the Matam Park in Haifa, and even more so, because in Be’er Sheva, the IDF’s move to the Negev plays a role, as well as tax breaks that the government gives to businesses in the city.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu named Be’er Sheva as the national cyber center last July, and ordered the drawing up of a five-year plan for civilian development in the Negev ahead of the IDF’s move south.
The project contains 23 buildings and a commercial street with 192,000 square meters of main space plus parking lots on a 50-acre site adjacent to the planned IDF C4I Corps campus, the north Be’er Sheva train station, and Ben Gurion University. The site also has building rights for a hotel and congress center.