Despite the global financial downturn, Israel currently has one of the strongest economies in the world. And ties between Colorado and Israel are growing, after several state officials, including Governor Bill Ritter, spent a week visiting the nation.

Israel “has the highest percentage of start-ups and the highest percentage of venture-capital funding of any country in the world. It’s very much an intellectual and capital-driven economy, and there are a lot of similarities with that kind of economy and the economy in Colorado,” says Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer (via KUNC radio).

Ritter (pictured) adds in a statement about the trip, which was sponsored by the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado with support from private contributions, that he’s “confident this mission will lead to increased jobs, investments, and economic growth for Colorado” (via The Denver Post).

For instance, the state could assist in workforce development for the vast Tamar natural-gas reserve 50 miles off the coast of Israel. Three agreements that will establish partnerships in the area of water and clean-energy technology also were signed, and Colorado beef exports were discussed.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon praises the meeting in a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release, adding that solar-energy technology in his country could help Colorado. He also expresses gratitude to Colorado pension companies for their voluntary “disinvestment from Iran.”