You know that the USCIS EB-5 visa immigrant investor programhas passed a milestone when Silicon Valley venture capitalists begin considering setting up their own EB5 visa regional center program.
This initial round of EB5 visa capital could prove to be an incubator for dozens of high tech companies developing the next generation of green technology. It won?t be the first time venture capital has been used in the region to create high growth, high value companies.
Thousands of high technology companies are headquartered in Silicon Valley; among those, the following are in the Fortune 1000: Adobe Systems, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Apple, Ebay, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Intuit, Nvidia, Oracle, VMware, Yahoo!, Agilent Technologies, Business Objects, Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, LSI Logic, National Semiconductor, NetApp, SanDisk, Sun Microsystems, Symantec.
Silicon Valley, however, was also the birthplace of many companies that never did realize their potential, or were hyped up to unrealistic heights only to come crashing down during what was known as the ?Dot-com bubble?. This exceprt from Wikipedia:
?Silicon Valley is generally considered to have been the center of the dot-com bubble which started from the mid-1990s and collapsed after the NASDAQ stock market began to decline dramatically in April 2000. During the bubble era, real estate prices reached unprecedented levels. For a brief time, Sand Hill Road was home to the most expensive commercial real estate in the world, and the booming economy resulted in severe traffic congestion. Even after the dot-com crash, Silicon Valley continues to maintain its status as one of the top research and development centers in the world. A 2006 Wall Street Journal story found that 13 of the 20 most inventive towns in America were in California, and 10 of those were in Silicon Valley. San Jose led the list with 3,867 utility patents filed in 2005, and number two was Sunnyvale, at 1,881 utility patents.?
So in the story lies great potential and opportunity to utilize the EB5 visa immigrant investor program to help fund the next generation of clean energy technology, something the U.S. domestic private equity & venture capital sector is oftentimes unwilling to do, with little in the way of economic incentives and with the carbon based fuel suppliers not eager to give up market share. Perhaps the EB5 visa immigrant investors will see a bright fututre in funding these forward looking technologies in exchange for a chance at permanent residency in the United States.
New venture capital plan aims to grow clean tech jobs.
By Zachary Stahl
Silicon Valley venture capitalist Rock Clapper wants to turn green cards into green jobs in Marina. Clapper is applying to make the city a hub for a foreign national investment fund that could grow to $75 million and create 1,500 jobs. ?This is an opportunity for growth in the community,? Clapper says. ?Marina?s a sleeping gem.?
Clapper, a member of the Menlo Park investment group Band of Angels, is applying to make the area from Marina to Monterey a regional center under the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This would allow foreigners willing to put up at least $500,000 to create or preserve 10 jobs in the area to receive green cards for their immediate family. ?The immigrants are very interested in a return on investment, but also interested in receiving a green card,? Clapper says.
The EB-5 program has 73 regional centers across the country, including more than 20 in California, from winery development in Napa to motion picture production in Los Angeles. Clapper?s company, Citizn Fund, would target industries including clean energy, agri-business and pharmaceuticals, giving investments and loans to new and existing Marina businesses.
If a Silicon Valley tech company wanted to get startup money from Citizn Fund, it would have to move to Marina. ?Now there is an opportunity for companies to have access to capital with the inducement to be located in the Marina area,? says Alan Barich, Marina Technology Cluster manager. ?It will do a lot to promote a clean and green vision center for the region.?
The business incubator is partly what attracted Clapper to the area. ?The incubator becomes like a magnet to draw these companies in,? he says.
The big question is whether the Marina fund will be able to attract enough wealthy foreign investors and if companies will take the bait.
Clapper?s partner is Won-Gil Choe, CEO of Mountain View-based Stanford Venture Group, who for the past decade has invested in or managed China and Asia-based companies. The fund will initially focus on marketing to investors in China, South Korea and Southeast Asia.
Barich says Clapper and Choe ?have the right kind of background and connections and everything else to make this a successful program.?
Clapper says he is assembling his legal and economic team and is tentatively scheduled to present before the Marina City Council on Jan. 26. He has requested a letter of support from the city and a $25,000 loan to offset application costs.
Mayor Bruce Delgado says he doesn?t know enough about the program to sign off on the loan, especially given tight budget times. ?To spend $25,000, give them a boost and the potential to bring in this kind of revenue and jobs, it seems reasonable,? Delgado says. It also sounds too good to be true, he adds.
If the application process goes smoothly, Clapper says, the fund will get off the ground in six months. While winning a regional center won?t instantly make Marina the clean tech capital of the state, Clapper thinks it?s a place to start.