Vermont leads charge for EB-5 investment program
Of the 83 EB-5 regional centers that have sprung up in the U.S. under the federal EB-5 visa program, the state of Vermont only has one – but its proactive engagement of the immigration investment initiative has already resulted in substantial economic development in the area.
Over the past several years, the Green Mountain State has been a major player in both demonstrating the worth of the EB-5 visa program to local economies, and in fighting for legislation to preserve the program in the future.
In the past year, members of Congress, including Vermont representatives, have lobbied to eliminate the EB-5 regional center pilot program, in order to permanently institute the economic development centers. The pilot program has been repeatedly extended since it was first introduced in the 1990s, the Washington Post reports.
Vermont’s Democratic Senator Patrick J. Leahy told the news source, “Once [regional centers] are permanent, I think we’re really going to see the true value of this.”
He added, “At a time when we’re seeing so many of our jobs exported out of the country, [the EB-5 visa program] creates jobs in the U.S.”
Vermont’s own EB-5 regional center, called the Vermont Agency of Community Development, has focused on bringing foreign investment to the tourism, manufacturing, professional services, education and information publishing industries in the state.
While the potential to earn an expedited U.S. visa has caused many foreign nationals to invest in development projects at Jay Peak and Sugarbush ski resorts, the regional center actually seeks to help finance projects around the entire state.
The immigration program drew investors from England, Brazil, China, India, Korea, Mexico and Canada to open a $17.5 million lodge at Jay Peak and create hundreds of new jobs at the resort, VermontBiz.com reports.
Sugarbush Resort in Warren, Vermont is also using funding from EB-5 visa holders to finance a new 40,000-square-foot guest services center.
Moving forward, Vermont government officials have indicated that the future of development projects in the state will be closely linked with EB-5 status immigrants.
Vermont Governor Jim Douglas recently confirmed plans with the South Korean biomedical company AnC Bio, to designate its subsidiary, AnC Bio VT as an official EB-5 regional center.
Governor Douglas said in a statement, “Thanks to the EB-5 visa program,…we are bringing millions in new investment to Vermont businesses and hundreds of new jobs to our state at this critical time.”