CNN aired a segment today from reporter Deb Feyerick, who asks whether EB-5 immigrant investors are "Buying green cards, or investing in American businesses?"
The segment portrays the construction and development of the Jay Peak resort in Vermont, one of the projects under the umbrella of the VACCD. Bill Stenger, the co-owner, describes how just being a seasonal resort was a recipe for failure since "without sustained year round operations you can't survive [and] you must be a 12 month a year operation". When he approached the banks for a $250 million loan to expand his operation without the 30% equity that they required, they turned him down.
"If you don't have the capital you can't make things happen," ~Bill Stenger, Jay Peak, Vermont
Since then, he has managed to raise over $250 million from over 500 investors in 56 countries. Among them are Birinder Bhullar and his wife Roshi, who came over from India.
CNN's Feyerick then describes how the EB-5 visa program, which has been around for 20 years, has brought in over $2 billion and is being promoted heavily by the Obama administration in an effort to create jobs, especially in rural areas with high unemployment.
The program is not without critics, however, and David North with the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization which supports strict limits on immigration, believes that if the United States is going to sell green cards, they should do so for much more and that the proceeds should go to the U.S. Treasury, not to developers.
The segment then returns to Bill Stenger who describes what the capital has meant to Jay Peak and the region, showing off the golf course, water park, indoor ice rink, conference center and retail shops and describing how the program has allowed Jay to create "hundreds and hundreds" of jobs.
Construction worker Brad Quintin used to have to travel far to other states but is now happy that work is close by.
Alex Noftz, a concierge at Jay Peak, applauds the idea of allowing a few thousand investors in to create badly needed jobs in the local economy.
The program was fairly balanced with most of the footage showing how the capital invested by the foreign nationals was being used to create economic activity in an area that was not able to attract more traditional sources of funding. After viewing the segment, there is little doubt that without the infusion of foreign equity into this Vermont project through the EB-5 immigrant investor program, U.S. jobs would not have been created.