International Trade - EB-5 Funding
A federal program that gives immigrants permanent residency in exchange for development funding is being hampered by bureaucratic delays.
In 2009, Florida was home to four EB-5 regional centers, a kind of geographic franchise designated by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service for collecting foreign investment and funneling it into job-creating businesses. Today, there are about 20. Here’s an update on the four Florida Trend wrote about in 2009:
» Under the new ownership of Kirk Eicholtz, a Tampa area real estate developer and attorney, the Florida Equity & Growth Fund Regional Center is focusing on acquiring financially distressed hotels and turning them around and establishing assisted living facilities throughout the 23-county region known as the Florida High-Tech Corridor.
» The South Florida Investment Regional Center is seeking foreign investment for Steel HQ USA, a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based Steel HQ Group, which is seeking to expand its operations into the United States. The company fabricates steel-framed structures for homes, commercial buildings, apartments and warehouses.
» The Lake Buena Vista Regional Center has run into “bureaucratic” roadblocks while trying to expand its condo-hotel resort near Kissimmee with EB-5 funds but recently resurrected a “vacation club” program that aims to raise funds from 30 foreign investors.
» Now operating in a nine-county region, the Palm Beach Regional Center/Palm Beach Investments & Finance has found a niche in the restaurant industry and is working with two franchise restaurant chains, Sonic and VooDoo BBQ & Grill, to develop locations in south Florida with EB-5 funds.