MSU Grad Seeks Chinese EB-5 Investors
According to the Detroit Free Press, one Michigan State University Grad is setting his sights as far as Beijing, China, working as an EB-5 representitive of FirstPathway Partners of Milwaukee. Yet, the Michigan native has hopes to some day attract foreign investors to his home town as well.
Dan Redford has gone from being a Michigan ambassador to one of its exports.
A 2010 Michigan State University grad with degrees in international relations and Mandarin Chinese, Redford spent four months last year as one of 80 American students taking visitors through the U.S. pavilion at the huge World Expo in Shanghai. He returned to East Lansing to work on community-building projects among MSU’s 2,400 Chinese students and this month moved to Beijing, where he is working for a company that seeks out wealthy Chinese willing to invest in America in return for a green card.
Unfortunately for Michigan, Redford’s employer is in Wisconsin, which will reap the benefits of his efforts.
“It’s where the opportunity was,” Redford, 22, said in an interview from his home in Frankenmuth before he left for China. “I’ll always be a Michigan guy, but I’m representing southeast Wisconsin.”
His company is FirstPathway Partners of Milwaukee, which pursues investments under the federal government’s 21-year-old EB5 visa program.
An EB5 is an employment-based visa. Basically, the EB5 program offers permanent U.S. residency to foreign nationals and their immediate family members for an investment of at least $500,000 in a federally approved project that will create or retain 10 American jobs. The investor need not take an active role in managing the project. There are regional centers established as investment targets, generally areas of high unemployment. Michigan has five of them.
Although the program seems a bit mercenary, it is attracting overseas capital to the U.S. — which still offers a standard of living with which most of the world cannot compete. And it’s a way of getting some Chinese money into the U.S. economy, although hardly enough to offset all the dollars we send their way for cheaply made consumer goods.
“China’s economic boom has created a lot of high-net-worth individuals,” Redford said. “The people who are generally most interested in the EB5 have families that they want to get into the American education system. A lot of investors will do this program for their kids. The children don’t have to attend school in the state where the investment is made. The visa holder doesn’t even have to live there.”
So, Redford says, while he’s trying to line up investments for Wisconsin, he hopes to be talking up Michigan, too, as a place to live and learn.
But he has no timetable for coming back to Michigan himself. For an educated young man who prides himself on thinking “glocally” — that is, forging relationships with people from around the world to effect change in any community you care about, anywhere on Earth — Michigan is simply not the frontier.
Redford is not entirely at ease in China.
“I’ll never be Chinese,” he said. “I’m a 6-foot-5 white guy from Michigan. I was out for a run there once and even this little dog was staring at me as I went past. He knew I was different.
“But I enjoy the adventure of China,” he said. “There is something new going on all the time. It’s an exciting place to be.”
So Redford exemplifies a conundrum for Michigan.
We support a university system that, as it should, encourages a world view and educates our young people to find their place in it.
But we don’t yet have a world-class state that offers them an opportunity to use their newfound awareness at home. As a result, they leave — sometimes for China, but more often for any place that needs what they know and, as Redford put it, “is an exciting place to be.”
If Michigan ever again becomes that kind of place — a bustling ball of energy where new ideas sprout like sunflowers and people embrace adventure — we can only hope our Dan Redfords find their way back.
Photo: Beijing’s Central Business Area
- Kraft Joined Governor on Chinese Trade Mission
- China Daily story on potential fraud for Chinese EB-5 visa investors using unscrupulous agents “More wealthy Chinese go for Green Card”
- Visa center seeks foreign investors
- Atlantic Yards EB-5 Project Making Waves with Chinese Investors
- Chinese Investors: Big Business in NY