EB-5 central to Michigan county executive race
While immigration has been a central issue in a great deal of electoral races, few deal so intimately with the EB-5 visa program as the one in Macomb County, Michigan.
There are three candidates running for the chief executive position in the county, according to Crain's Detroit Business Journal. Part of the campaign has centered around the candidates' stance on the proposed Mt. Clemens-area EB-5 regional center.
The EB-5 visa program was established in 1990 and gives foreign investors a chance to earn U.S. green card eligibility. If a foreign national invests $1 million (or in some areas $500,000) in an American business and that investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs, the investor becomes eligible for a U.S. green card.
A great deal of investments in the EB-5 visa program are handled through EB-5 regional centers which help manage and direct capital. These centers can be "any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment," according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
Republican Randy Shafer said he supports the Mt. Clemens-area EB-5 regional center.
"All the communities would have to have sufficient time to be informed on whether they want to join [the Center], and perhaps it should be more than Mt. Clemens and Clinton Township. That's a big chunk of change for some municipal budgets," Shafer told the news source. "It's up to various communities to fit into the budget what they can afford for it."
Libertarian candidate Erin Stahl, who served one term on the St. Clair Shores City Council, was not so sure about the EB-5 regional center, telling the news provider that "many more things can be done to bring jobs back rather than give away hard-earned taxpayers' money" as the recently tabled Macomb plan proposed.
Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said he is also opposed to the center if it draws too heavily on public money.
"I don't think it should be established with public funds (as the county plan proposed), it should be a public-private partnership," he told the news source in an interview. "An EB5 shouldn't be run by politicians who think they can travel and attract business here. Business is what is going to attract business. Should we be using taxpayer dollars to be what's ultimately going to be a privately run organization? It should be private with public support, not the opposite."
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