Indeed, EB-5 investment projects around the United States are constantly recruiting investors and creating new jobs for US citizens. This is why Congress created the EB-5 visa category, and it's why public officials from both major parties continue to support the program.
Here are a few projects that made the news recently:
New Potential for Cincinnati
This one garnered substantial attention in the Cincinnati area. It's what the press calls the University of Cincinnati accelerator, and its purpose is moving technologies developed at the university out into society so that they can drive business and innovation. This from the Cincinnati Business Courier:
The accelerator will identify promising UC technologies through a competitive application process. It will award gap funding or pre-seed funding so that investigators can conduct the work needed to attract outside investment to reach the next stage.
And it's with help from the Midwest EB-5 Regional Center that this project came into fruition. While the regional center contributed just $500,000 to the technology accelerator ? that's one EB-5 investor's dollars ? its investment in this project is part of a $20 million revitalization project on the street where the accelerator is located.
According to Terry Chan, who operates the regional center, the project should create 400 new jobs in the area. New companies are already setting up shop in the area, and efforts to rennovate aging buildings into new office space is something local officials hope will change public perception of the neighborhood. At present, Corryville is largely considered an "unsafe, unsavory area."
The regional center's scope also includes a restaurant accelerator, which will operate in the same manner.
These projects are very different from the hotels, sportsplexes, and ski resorts we're so used to seeing from EB-5 regional centers. Let's hope they really do spur growth and innovation in the Cincinnati area ? and create new jobs along the way.
Using all that extra space
Here's another project that piqued our interest, although, to be fair, it's not exactly an EB-5 project yet.
But like the Cincinnati effort, it's definitely a "different" kind of EB-5 project. In Merced County, California, the county government along with a local group, the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics, want more foreign business for their airport, which is located in a Foreign Trade Zone.
"LAX, San Francisco, and Oakland airports are running out of space," one official told local press, adding that the Merced County location had "a lot of space available."
The EB-5 element would fit in when Sierra constructed a cargo and logistics center at the local airport. Due to previous relationships with people and entities abroad, the group has already seen some interest from Chinese investors. It would first need to gain regional center approval, of course.
A Green Opportunity?
A new foreign investment effort in Texas is on the verge of becoming the nation's eighth EB-5 regional center focused on renewable energy.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell just announced a proposal to create a center that will specifically address "clean energy development" and "green" job creation. They'll be doing it through investments in what Inside Climate News calls "advanced battery and green construction companies."
Nobody is saying how big the project will be ? at least not yet. But the mayor is already promoting it as the premier green energy investment among America's ever-diversifying EB-5 opportunities.
While there isn't any data available with regard to how many green jobs the EB-5 program has created thus far, the Austin center certainly wouldn't be the first to offer foreign investors a chance to invest in America's clean economy. The Arizona Alternative Energy Center solicits investments in solar power as does the Inland Empire Renewable Energy Regional Center, which is also seeking EB-5 funds to build a renewable energy "superstore."
Will these projects succeed? Will the newest among them garner USCIS approval? At this point, there's no way to know.
At the same time, it's refreshing to see EB-5 regional centers trying something new.