Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel to attend the 30th International Conference of Mayors, organized by the Jewish American Congress, the Council on World Jewry, and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I was one of just four mayors from the United States invited to join about 25 other municipal leaders from around the world to discuss urban innovation.

During my visit, I was impressed how Israeli cities place a strong emphasis on future generations in their decision-making process, and I intend to do the same in Rochester.
Over the course of a several busy days, I visited Tel-Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem. I met with the mayors and staffs of the host cities and also with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the highlights of my time overseas was a tour of the South of Salame; an area where start-up companies and industries are being fostered in vintage, uniquely crafted building spaces designed to promote interaction, creativity and collaboration. We saw young, diverse entrepreneurs from all walks of life meeting, working and socializing in a modern ecosystem building their future economy.

I met with several Israeli industry leaders and start-up company executives. We discussed cyber security, high-tech industry attraction strategies, private funding mechanisms, smart city planning, job development programs and more. Again, however, the common thread throughout this conference was the focus on young people: how are we making cities better places for the next generation to work, live and play?

At the end of the conference, I traveled to Rehovot, Rochester’s sister city. Included in the delegation joining me were City Chief of Staff Jeremy Cooney, City Councilmember Carolee Conklin, former City Clerk Daniel Karin and International Sister Cities of Rochester Executive Director Michael Leach. Like Rochester, Rehovot has a strong higher educational focus and growing economy. Also similarly, Rehovot has pockets of poverty and a large resettled refugee population.

It is my hope we will strengthen our 42-year relationship with our sister city and find new ways for our citizens to support and learn from another. We are already moving ahead with an exchange project involving at-risk Rochester and Rehovot high school students, scheduled to begin next summer.

For our own city, I am invested in creating thriving and vibrant neighborhoods for residents and visitors and — it must not be forgotten — for future generations. To meet this goal, together, we must develop and support job creating and/or retaining initiatives, keep people safe and foster educational excellence. More jobs, safer neighborhoods and better educational opportunities. These are the keys to success, and I pledge to continue fighting for our young people so they can find job and educational opportunities right here at home in Rochester.