State official, businessmen head to China for two-week trip to find investors

A top state official for foreign investment is seeking new networks and promoting the state’s “EB-5” projects to crowds of investors in China on a two-week trip.

Brent Raymond, who directs the Vermont EB-5 regional center, told VTDigger that he’s mainly promoting two already approved EB-5 projects in the state: the DreamLife retirement resorts project, signed off by Lawrence Miller, the state’s secretary of Commerce and Community Development, in November 2012, and Bill Stenger’s well-known $600 million Jay Peak Resort expansion.

Raymond left Wednesday to attend the Invest in America 2013 Summit and Exhibition from March 15-18 in Shanghai, a major convention which focuses on foreign investment in America and real estate development, mostly in the context of the EB-5 visa program.

Many of the features and rides in the new Jay Peak water park are heated by capturing waste heat from an ice arena.

Many of the features and rides in the new Jay Peak water park are heated by capturing waste heat from an ice arena. Photo courtesy of Jay Peak Resort.

Started in 1990, the federal EB-5 program grants green cards to foreign investors who inject $500,000 or more into the nation’s economy and create 10 jobs.

“It’s about marketing the regional center,” said Raymond, referring to Vermont’s position as maintaining the only state-owned and administered body helping foreign investors and Vermont businesses connect over the EB-5 program.

“The 2012 World Wealth report states that the Asia-Pacific geographic region surpassed North America and Europe in high net-worth individuals,” said Raymond. “So it’s just a no-brainer to go over there and market for the projects.”

Since Stenger and DreamLife’s principal Phil Mooney will attend themselves in person. “Obviously, they’re looking to make very direct connections,” Raymond said.

Bill Stenger, owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain resorts, shows lawmakers plans for development in the Northeast Kingdom on Feb. 5, 2013,at Jay Peak. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

Bill Stenger, owner of Jay Peak and Burke Mountain resorts, shows lawmakers plans for development in the Northeast Kingdom on Feb. 5, 2013, at Jay Peak. Photo by Nat Rudarakanchana

Jay Peak co-owner Stenger told VTDigger that he’d be in China in person for eight full days. He hopes to meet 400 to 500 people along the way, from attorneys and immigration representatives to investors.

Although Jay Peak will shell out about $40,000 in total for the trip, Stenger hopes to identify and benefit by drawing at least 100 possible investors.

“About 20 percent of our investors come from China,” said Stenger, referencing his planned $600 million expansion in the Northeast Kingdom. “It’s a big trip and I think it’s going to be very effective for us.”

Raymond’s travel costs will be borne by DreamLife and Jay Peak. Stenger called the reimbursement a common practice, reasoning that conservative fiscal times made it appropriate for him to pay for the trip, since both the state and Jay Peak benefit from the “good partnership.”

A project less publicized than Jay Peak, DreamLife DreamLife Retirement Resorts plans to build luxury housing for the elderly, in towns across Vermont. Each building complex would cost $24 million; the company plans to build 10 in the state, according to the DreamLife website.

It’s not clear when construction by DreamLife will start, or in which towns. State officials have mentioned previous hiccups and stretches of silence from DreamLife leaders, as Seven Days’ Paul Heintz reported in April 2012.

Raymond doesn’t have a target dollar figure he’d like to secure in promised investments. He said the Invest in America 2013 Summit is more about making a first impression on investors and holding initial meetings prior to rigorous background checks on investors and the source of their funds.

“The Chinese represent 90 percent of EB-5 investment in the nation, followed by South Korea, Taiwan, Iran and Venezuela,” said Raymond. “The Vermont regional center is well-known in China, but still, we’re competing against a couple hundred other regional centers and need to continue to market. This is a group of people we need to be in front of.”

Raymond had originally also hoped to market secondary schools and colleges in Vermont, to Chinese families looking for an American education for their children, but won’t do so on this trip.

Nat Rudarakanchana

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Bruce Post
2 years 10 months ago

“A project less publicized than Jay Peak, DreamLife plans to build 10 DreamLife Retirement Resorts, or luxury housing for the elderly, in towns across Vermont, projecting that each building complex will cost $24 million, according to its website.”

“… luxury housing for the elderly…”? Could this be one reason why the Gov won’t raise taxes on the wealthy?

2 years 10 months ago

It would be fascinating — and probably entertaining — to get copies of the actual brochure-level marketing material they’ve created to “pitch” Vermont.

John Perry
2 years 10 months ago

here’s a link to their website. I wonder how many Vermonters will be able to afford to live in these? Or maybe just be servants? Upmountain, Downmountain.
https://www.dreamlifeeb5.com/index.php

2 years 10 months ago

Thank you, John. This is even more surreal than I expected.

2 years 10 months ago

Should we be selling green cards to the rich and deporting the poor? If we’re going to sell green cards, how about selling them to engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs?

2 years 10 months ago

Great! Let’s keep on destroying Vermont’s environment and rural character for the benefit of the rich. Jay Peak was the first entity in Vermont to blast off a portion of a mountain top and the onslaught continues. Don’t worry about all those additional carbon emissions. So what if Vermont is losing extremely important forest cover for the first time in well over a century. We have every right to cause the sixth great extinction. Don’t ask if this development contributes to sustainability. How truly sad. If anyone would like to show the excellent movie “Hooked on Growth” (www.growthbusters.org) in their… Read more »

Kathy Leonard
2 years 10 months ago

George, an alternate view of economy – one Vermont seems to have forgotten of late – can be found in Doug Tompkins’s THE NEXT ECONOMY – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv-JXrSLsWE (You won’t be sorry you watched it).

Page Guertin
2 years 10 months ago

Oh goody! Ten Florida-style high-rise luxury retirement communities in Vermont designed with only the wealthy in mind! But of course there will be lots of service jobs for the poor to take, serving the rich as always. Just what Vermont needs!! And how, exactly, will these resorts benefit the communities where they’re located? The $500K that wealthy foreigners pay to buy their green cards will go to the building of the resorts, but very likely not to the maintenance. I’m sure DreamLife will get lots of tax breaks for locating wherever they do, which means the local people will bear… Read more »

2 years 10 months ago

Please don’t let the word “luxury” confuse you. We are building Assisted Living Centers to help keep seniors out of Nursing Homes as long as possible, which cost the state and individual families much more per person. “Luxury” only refers to the level of services available, not the cost, so residents are treated with care and respect, and so we can create the large number of jobs required by the EB5 program. Jobs for massage therapists, hairdressers, recreation coordinators, cooks, housekeepers and even mechanics to service motorized wheelchairs. All the facilities will use the latest in environmental technology including geo-thermal… Read more »

Kathy Leonard
2 years 10 months ago

Phil Mooney: “We will market Vermont throughout the Northeastern U.S. as a safe and senior friendly place to move to, with its clean air and wonderful scenery. These people will spend their money in Vermont for the benefit of Vermonters.” Question for Mr. Mooney: Will people living in the vicinity of these ‘high-end’ assisted living facilities — those people who will be doing the work necessary to operate them — “Jobs for massage therapists, hairdressers, recreation coordinators, cooks, housekeepers and even mechanics to service motorized wheelchairs” — have an opportunity to access care when they are in need of assisted… Read more »

2 years 10 months ago

Under new management in a big way, huh, Phil? What follows is from 7 Days last year: Contrary to the EB-5 program’s mission, one firm “certified” by Vermont and featured on the state’s website appears to be a front company for a Canadian immigration firm in the business of selling visas. Promotional materials for the company, DreamLife, suggest it plans to build four $24 million senior living facilities in Montpelier, Rutland, White River Junction and Newport — each replete with bowling alleys and bistros. But company president Richard Parenteau readily admits that DreamLife is only entering the senior living market… Read more »

Page Guertin
2 years 10 months ago

Mr. Mooney, First of all, it is just plain wrong to sell a path to citizenship to someone with lots of money when there are thousands, if not millions, of people who have worked and slaved and risked their lives to get in to this country – and whose labor is vital to our construction and food-producing industries, among others – who are being deported or threatened with deportment. There are also many, many qualified people who have waited years for the opportunity to enter the US but are denied because of quotas, other requirements, and the inefficiency of the… Read more »

Jim Barrett
2 years 10 months ago

All transactions are deemed SECRET with these so called green card deals……..WHY? We have government involvement in this (our taxes) and the government is telling us HANDS OFF! No government should be working with any foreigners and telling them all transactions are secret. Throw the bums out of office!

Fred Woogmaster
2 years 10 months ago

Unbridled capitalism – you gotta love it! Strip mine the land and bring in the foreign investors to take care of our precious seniors. The EB5 program provides capital for the purpose of generating profit. The public policy embedded in the granting of “Americanship” to foreign investors – is obscene.

2 years 10 months ago

Foreign multi-millionaires from East Asia paying $500,000 to get first dibs at a US visa and retire in Vermont? They made their money selling us manufactured goods? Stenger’s “free-money, foreigners-come-first” EB-5 projects will a boon for Stenger & Co, trickle down crumbs for everyone else doing mostly low-paid menial work. Is there a federal program the State of Vermont does NOT like, if federal subsidies are the lure? The same is true with renewable energy subsidies which cause the building of RE facilities that produce high-cost energy that make Vermont’s economy less competitive. More jobs in the RE sector, less… Read more »

John Greenberg
2 years 10 months ago

No Willem. You’re a slow learner. The power is not “24/7/365, CO2-free nuclear energy.”

First, it’s 16/7, not 24/7. We’ve had this discussion before, and I cited my source. It’s in testimony in the VY case at the PSB.

Second, nuclear power is not CO2-free. Milling, mining, enriching, fabricating and transporting nuclear fuel all produce C02, as does building and decommissioning plants, and removing and storing their waste.

2 years 10 months ago

John, The real issue is nuclear energy is steady, 24/7/365, low-cost, near-CO2 free, whereas Lowell’s energy is variable, intermittent, i.e., junk energy, high cost and only partially CO2-free, not allowed on the NEK grid without a $10.5 million facility to clean it up. Lowell Voltage Regulating Facility: Lowell wind energy varies with the cube of the wind speed; double the wind speed, eight times the energy. According to ISO-NE, because the variations of the wind energy voltage are too excessive for the NEK grid, a 27.5 MVAR voltage regulating facility needs to be installed by GMP. It will be located… Read more »

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