Governor travels to Miami to court EB-5 investors

Governor travels to Miami to court EB-5 investors

Bill Stenger announces a $500 million investment in Northeast Kingdom developments. Photo by Anne Galloway

Bill Stenger announces a $500 million investment in Northeast Kingdom developments. Photo by Anne Galloway

Gov. Peter Shumlin will travel to Miami on Thursday and Friday to encourage investment in the state’s Northeast Kingdom via the EB-5 visa investment program, accompanied by Jay Peak Resort president and co-owner Bill Stenger.

Shumlin and Stenger will be pitching an elaborate set of projects to scores of immigration attorneys and wealthy investors, with many foreign investors from Central America and South America, according to Stenger.

“I’ll be going on the road with them to assure investors that when they have choices about what EB-5 program to choose across America – and there’s a lot of them – they ought to choose this program in the Kingdom,” Shumlin said at a Burlington press conference on Monday.

He touted the $500 million Northeast Kingdom project as having a “track record of delivering value to investors” adding: “We’re the only statewide EB-5 program in the nation. We’re the only EB-5 program where the state acts as a sort of auditor in the program, which gives investors added confidence that they’re investing in something that is real.”

Started in 1990, the federal EB-5 program requires foreigners to invest $1 million into American economic development, and create at least 10 full-time jobs, in return for a green card.

Vermont’s variation of the program allows investors to contribute a minimum $500,000, plus administrative fees, and to provide a combination of both direct and indirect jobs. Indirect jobs include jobs created as a result of a project, as opposed to “actual identifiable jobs” paid for by project managers, according to a 2011 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service report to Congress.

Vermont’s regional EB-5 center, which approves and reviews suitable investment projects, is the only such center in the nation owned and operated by a state government.

Stenger, the private sector developer of the $500 million in projects, told VTDigger that the governor’s two days in Florida could net about $25 million to $50 million in total future investment.

“We can probably meet with attorneys or investors that would represent anywhere between 50 to 100 investors,” said Stenger. “It could range from $25 million to $50 million of total investment.”

But, he cautioned: “We won’t come back from Florida with checks. But we will have met people we’ll follow up with, who have serious interest, and who will ultimately wind up working with us.”

This isn’t the first time Shumlin has helped out Stenger by speaking at similar events and meetings, according to the Jay Peak exec, who said the governor promoted EB-5 with him in South Florida just over a year ago.

“The governor has been very gracious in his support,” said Stenger. “It’s very effective, what he’s able to bring to an event like this. Vermont has a great deal of credibility in the EB-5 community, in no small part because we have support from our elected officials and our local officials.”

On Thursday evening the pair plan an evening reception for 75 to 100 attorneys and investors who are “seriously interesting in participating” in Vermont’s regional EB-5 program. At a Friday luncheon, Shumlin will speak at an American Immigration Lawyers Association meeting, looking to spread information and enthusiasm about the EB-5 program to the clients of these immigration attorneys.

Shumlin told reporters at a press conference that his trip is being paid for by an administrative fee levied on already existing EB-5 investors, so taxpayers wouldn’t bear the cost.

Stenger said he’s raised about $300 million of a targeted $600 million so far, from about 600 investors, most of whom have already struck deals and actually delivered investment funds.

Read VTDigger’s previous coverage of the $500 million in new projects planned for the Northeast Kingdom here.

Nat Rudarakanchana

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