By Sean Silverthorne
Jerusalem, one of the world’s great historic cities and a crucible for Jewish, Muslim and Christian religions, is now looking to market itself to the world.
Working with Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, Jerusalem’s new mayor, Nir Barkat, is developing a strategy to boost its struggling economy.
At a press conference at HBS on March 26, Barkat said the city wants to follow the basic Porter business strategy playbook: develop an economic plan around the area’s built-in competitive advantages.
In Jerusalem, those resources include unmatched history and culture, access to highly skilled workers in the life sciences, and outsourcing opportunities in the medical and financial services.
“Jerusalem’s never had an economic strategy,” Porter said. “It’s never had a systematic economic development campaign that’s strategic.”
“We have a 3,000 year old brand” that many companies and institutions would like to be associated with, said Barkat, a successful businessman before turning politician.
Tourism could be a huge development area, reflecting the ancient city’s religious and cultural contributions. Many people around the world have the desire to visit Jerusalem at least once in their lives, the mayor said, but only 2 million people actually make the trek each year — a very small number. He said he has support from the Israeli government as well as local religious and political leaders to develop and attract a range of tourism-based services.