Des Moines Looking For EB5 Regional Center Status
From The Waterland Blog:
by Ralph Nichols
Des Moines City Council members will hear at tonight’s meeting about an innovative immigration program to encourage financial investment by foreign nationals to stimulate economic activity in the United States.
Known as the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, created by Congress in 1992, eligible immigrant investors may invest $500,000 in an economic venture that will create at least 10 jobs in exchange for the opportunity to become legal permanent U.S. residents.
These investors and up to 10 employees they may bring into the country are granted EB-5 – “employee-based fifth preference” – visas. They may apply for citizenship after five years.
Marion Yoshina, the city’s economic development manager, recently told The Waterland Blog these investors contribute to economic activity in “regional centers.”
They are defined as “any economic unit, public or private, engaged in the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment.”
Immigrant investors are already boosting economic activity through this pilot program in regional centers in Seattle and Tacoma and about 100 other locations nationwide.
Mayor Bob Sheckler predicted an “overwhelming” positive response by council members to the potential for inviting investment-program participation in Des Moines.
He said one local regional center for immigrant financial investment in Des Moines could be the 383-room Artemis Hotel, which will be located along Pacific Highway South north of Kent-Des Moines Road.
A five-star authentic Chinese restaurant will be part of the hotel complex, which now is in the final planning stage, and the developer could bring its chef and staff to the U.S. with EB-5 visas.
“It doesn’t matter what [regional centers] are as long as they contribute to the economy,” Yoshino said. A city can apply for regional center designation, but usually it is the investor who makes that request.
“When opportunities for getting investment capital for development projects are scarce, it’s a wonderful thing for Des Moines,” she added. This program can boost “the wonderful trend toward revitalization of our area. Great things are coming together.”
Sheckler said Des Moines will benefit from regional centers established locally by foreign investors with new family wage jobs, an expanded tax base, one-time permitting fees – and the multiplier effect on job creation that results from increased commercial activity.
“The tide is really turning,” he continued. “This area is undervalued. Property is an incredible buy right now. We also offer incredible convenience to the airport and three major cities in the region.”
Yoshina said city participation with immigrant investors in regional centers locally would include endorsement of their ventures and expediting the permitting process.
The law permits three methods for these investors to establish a commercial enterprise: create an original business; purchase and restructure or reorganize an existing business; or expand an existing business to increase by at least 40 percent either its net worth or number of employees.
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