EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programs Boost Local Economies

Many state officials are pleased to welcome the three-year extension of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Regional Center program, acknowledging the program will provide a further boost to the country’s economy. The program will be extended via a Congressional bill, which passed the senate and awaits House approval.

Introduced to Congress by Vermont Senator Leahy, the program encourages foreign investment in local commercial real estate development and projects. Two Vermont ski resorts testified before a Congressional sub-committee in Washington in 2011, discussing the benefits of the program. The testimonies of Jay Peak and Sugarbush Ski Resorts were regarded as influential to the extension approval.

Leahy told the press that the ski resorts who testified last year were major users of the federal program, and that they launched major redevelopment projects through it. He explained, “Vermont’s Regional Center, a national leader in using the federal program, has been a successful private-public partnership between the State of Vermont and several Vermont businesses, bringing economic development and job growth since 1997.”

Florida Regional Center, located in Palm Beach Gardens, is delivering positive results to community-based projects as well. Florida Regional Center is working with EB-5 investors to create Harbourside Place, an intracoastal community development project that will feature an entertainment plaza and outdoor theater, retail space, restaurants and eateries, office suites, hotel accommodations and marina slips. The project is expected to create a substantial economic stimulus for the area and create over 2,400 jobs over the following three years. The Town of Jupiter is an avid supporter of the project, alongside the state’s CFO, Alex Sink, the State’s local Congressional Representatives, the Town Council and Palm Beach County.

Across the country, Jeff Hopkins, president of California-based Hopkins Group, has played an important role in putting together the EB-5 investment program to provide necessary funding to local projects. He was recently approached by the University of California at Riverside’s Athletic director for help building an arena for the school. The project required a maximum of 30 million, Hopkins told the press, which were duly committed after the director decided to source EB-5 program funds and went to Shanghai, China, to obtain Chinese investments. The project is expected to be profitable and beneficial to the local and surrounding areas.

There are nearly 200 regional centers with pending EB-5 applications across the United States. The program has been able to pool billions of dollars in foreign investments and distribute the funds toward community-driven and job-creating endeavors. Thousands of local jobs have been created, which has contributed to decreases in unemployment rates where there are projects.

The House is expected to pass the extension after its Labor Day recess.