The EB-5 Regional Center Program is making headlines once again thanks to its increased popularity as a "tax free" way to create more jobs in areas of high unemployment.
The Gulf Coast Business Review recently reported that the EB5 Visa Program is funding many development projects across the Gulf Coast. Funding for three EB-5 projects in Florida, including the Meers Town Center in Tarpon Springs, Tampa Festival and Horizon Shopping Center at Hillsborough Avenue, was provided through the Atlantic American Opportunities Fund LP, a USCIS approved private equity fund sponsored by Florida Overseas Investment Center, one of 17 regional centers in Florida.
"It?s certainly great for Florida and the economy to see the job creation take place in the current economic circumstance with no taxes,? said Roy Norton, director of the Siesta Key-based Florida Overseas Investment Center.
The Tampa Festival project alone is expected to create 20 direct jobs and 55 indirect jobs according to Gar Lippincott, Managing Principal of Atlantic American Opportunities Fund. In comments to the Review, Lippincott noted that his company has "a track record of raising money and harvesting funds."
The way Lippincott sees it, American Opportunities Fund operates differently from other EB-5 structures. By spreading an investor?s money out among "multiple assets,"(everything from grocery store-anchored shopping centers to medical office buildings) the Fund is able to provide investors with greater diversification, an arrangement that makes investors less likely to lose money, said Lippincott.
That stands in contrast to a "single-asset" EB-5 project in which the money manager is also the developer.
The Review also considered the Charlotte Harbour Regional Center, which was recently voted Best Regional Center at the 2011 Invest in America Summit. Its Charlotte Harbour Marina Project was voted most likely to create jobs and provide an investment return.
Following an initial delay, the harbor project will receive $10 million from 20 different EB5 immigrant investor foreign nationals. Developer Allen Heise, president and CEO of the center, still hopes to raise the $40 million needed for the completion of the project by securing as many as 80 additional EB5 visa investors.