Ohio city backs BioHio Research Park
While many people on the recent Wooster, Ohio Chamber of Commerce trip to China spent time sightseeing, City Hall members were doing business with some Chinese citizens regarding a federally approved project that will utilize the EB-5 visa program, the Daily Record reports.
Justin Starlin, Mike Sigg and Tim Monea traveled to China to visit with potential investors for the BioHio Research Park.
The construction of the research park is intended to be funded by the EB-5 visa program, which allows foreign nationals to receive green cards by investing $1 million (or $500,000 in some areas) into an approved project to create at least 10 full-time jobs. After five years, the investor could potentially become a U.S. citizen.
Wooster is the home of one of only three EB-5 projects in the state of Ohio, with the other two located in Cleveland and Columbus. The BioHio Research Park project is being led by the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC).
The Northeast Ohio EB-5 Regional Center in Wooster specializes in the industries of bio-science, energy, information technology and urban renewal, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The regional center in Cleveland focuses on mixed-use real estate construction, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and retail facilities.
Starlin told the news provider that the research park should help to commercialize research being done at the OARDC, adding that the city has been in contact with the potential investors in China. He said that the meetings "went well and were very positive" but that nothing definitive had come out of them yet.
"Our mission is to identify if there is a market in China and to see what opportunities there are," Starlin said. "We feel confident there's a market in China and we can be very attractive," for future investment, he said.
In fiscal 2009, there were 4,218 visas issued through the EB-5 visa program and of those, 1,979 were issued to investors from China, giving China the highest number of successful EB-5 investors.
Starlin added that the main focus of the project is agricultural bioscience, which he says China has been looking into more. Agricultural bioscience is the concept of using technology to convert biomass into renewable energy systems. It is also used for animal health, food production and a number of other issues, according to the news provider.