The tiny, isolated Negev development town of Mitzpeh Ramon is about to get a valley, in addition to the giant crater it was named after. The Israeli unit of the global advertising agency McCann Erickson said this week it plans to establish a center for digital and new media marketing in the town, which lies on the rim of Makhtesh Ramon, a 500-meter-deep depression. To be called McCann Valley, it will eventually employ 120 people, a major boost for employment in a town of just 4,500 residents.
Under the guidance of Michal Romi, an entrepreneur and editor of the culture magazine Route 40 who hails from the town, the new center will provide services such as managing Facebook pages, paid services for enhanced Facebook and other social network tools. It will also offer branding services and website design for small and medium-sized businesses across Israel.
"As a native of Mitzpeh Ramon, I see this as a unique opportunity to break the vicious cycle of development towns," said Romi. "The initiative will enable us to harness the expertise and vision of the leading advertising agency in Israel, in order to bring about a real change for residents here, while combining a successful business with social progress."
The company says it will hire several dozen employees over the next two years, with the aim of building the payroll to 120 by 2018. Salaries will be comparable to those of Tel Aviv, McCann said.
More than just being a new workplace, McCann Valley aims to bring young professionals to Mizpeh Ramon. New employees will receive six months of training, supported by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry.
McCann Valley will open its training courses in new media professions for young residents from around the region. Additional funding for the initiative will come from the finance and housing ministries as well as the Mitzpeh Ramon local council.
"The project is a game-changer," McCann Erickson Israel COO and CFO Hana Rado says. "As a leading advertising organization in Israel we feel a responsibility to bring about social change through our knowledge and experience. We believe that success in business requires a strong and growing community," she says.
Mitzpeh Ramon Mayor Flora Shoshan said that while the town's tourism industry was growing, not all of its residents can or wants to work in the sector.
"Our goal is to create quality positions in marketing and high-tech that will allow our young people to fulfill their potential here rather than looking elsewhere," she said.
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