Ashdod: Community Relations Strategy and the Establishment of the Visitors Center

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The Ashdod Port was founded in the 1960s as an artificial, deep-water and modern port, alongside of which developed the city of Ashdod. In 2005, the reform of the Israeli ports involved comprehensive restructuring, and the port became an independent government company.

Since its inception, the Ashdod Port has suffered from stormy labor relations and a harsh image among the Israeli public. The troubled labor relations at the port were attributed to the general port industry structure around the world but also to social processes of national and ethnic stratification that began with the evolution of Israeli society over these decades.

As part of the port company’s business vision, and as a reflection of one of its core values that is derived from its vision, a general philosophy was developed regarding community relations. This philosophy evolved not only from the instrumental perspective of steady improvement and public relations at the port but also in a belief that view community involvement in its main institutions, regulatory bodies and third sector entities as a value in and of itself.

Thus was formed a strategic philosophy of community relations, which relies on several principles including the perspective of the city of Ashdod as a main target, alongside actions with general Israeli society; emphasis on long-term and continuous infrastructure activity; establishment of cooperation for goals and content; selection of leading strategic partners in their field; and selection of activities pertaining to the port’s core businesses, while granting clear preference to involvement in the sustainability world and environment. The lecture will briefly cover several examples of such cooperation.

The second part of the lecture will cover the establishment of the Ashdod Port’s Visitors Center, which was built in 2010 and designed to operate on three levels: business – with customers and suppliers; public – with the general public and organizational – with employees. The lecture will cover the main phases in the construction of the center, its goals, content, mode of operation and impact.

Ben Zikry Yigal is Vice President of Corporate Communication at the Port of Ashdod where he is responsible of market management with the media, government relations and business and community organizations. He is also in charge of the formation of the company’s communication strategy and internal organizational processes.  In 2002, he initiated the establishment of a visitors center and reinforced business and community ties. Finally he worked for several years as a formal and informal education teacher.

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