The trend to draw out Jerusalem’s many-faceted personality and enhance its broad appeal continues. Most recently, the government launched the multi-million-shekel Merom Plan for the economic development of the city. The Jerusalem Development Authority
(JDA) will be implementing the plan together with the Municipality and its progress will be monitored by a steering committee. JIIS will assist JDA in consultation, research, monitoring and evaluation. Almost all the Institute's staffers will be hands on deck, offering multidisciplinary perspectives and navigation.
The five-year plan addresses tourism, biotechnology, higher education and migration. The government has allocated NIS 290 million for the Merom Plan. Additional funding in the area of tourism will be allocated by the Ministry of Tourism
and the Municipality of Jerusalem
At JIIS, the tourism component will be led by Israel Kimhi and Dr. Maya Choshen. They will monitor the JDA's tourism-related activities and evaluate their outcomes, as well as develop indicators, and assist industry leaders to advance a range of aspects of tourism in the city. Kimhi notes that the lion's share of the work will center on creating a comprehensive database for Jerusalem tourism, study how the city manages the local tourism industry and assess whether it achieves its set objectives.
Regarding the bio-technology aspect, JIIS will monitor activities aimed at advancing this industry in Jerusalem. "We will provide ongoing consultation and evaluation of the plans to promote bio-technological sectors," says Dr. Dan Kaufmann, head of JIIS' Economics Unit. "The JIIS team will also map activities, assist in the development of strategies for action in the field, and conduct periodic evaluations." In this way, he says, the team will be able to assist in creating implementation mechanisms that can be used in the future, as well as formulating new policy tools and updating existing ones that can encourage development of the bio-technology sector.
Another aspect of the Institute's work will address “AcademiCity,” the unique initiative proposed and initiated by JIIS, aimed at turning Jerusalem’s academic institutions into a magnet for attracting students to the city by enhancing the learning experience and leveraging the economic influence of local academic activities. The program is anchored in cooperation among the higher education institutions in Jerusalem. JIIS will provide advice to the managers of "AcademiCity", monitor its achievements and evaluate its outcomes. The emphasis of this work will be on organizational, operational and economic aspects.
In addition, JIIS will be involved in a study on migration to and from Jerusalem that is included in the plan. "The negative migration balance seen since the early 1990s [in which the number of people leaving the city for other localities in Israel exceeds the number coming to live in Jerusalem from elsewhere in Israel] continues," says Choshen who, together with Kimhi will oversee this aspect. "We will study the characteristics of people who either leave or move to the city, including the underlying factors motivating them. We will then formulate recommendations for trying to reduce the number of those who leave Jerusalem as well as for attracting new residents." In the context of the Merom Plan, this study will address all sectors of society – different age groups, population characteristics according to gender, degree of religiosity, and socio-economic status.