NW Ohio seeks hub for foreign investors seeking citizenshipWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
Northwest Ohio might soon become a hub for foreign investors looking to secure permanent residency in the United States.
The Regional Growth Partnership (RGP) confirmed it is working toward assembling an EB-5 Regional Center, which means that the area would serve as a springboard for new business development with the help of wealthy foreign individuals.
The RGP would not release any more details at this time.
Other areas in Ohio — Wooster, Cleveland, Greenville and Akron — have already taken advantage of the program, which began in the 1990s. Such a center allows financial growth agencies to contract with foreign investors in exchange for green cards and eventually an easier path to U.S. citizenship. There are a little more than 200 nationally as listed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
To become a Regional Center, the application must provide a detailed proposal explaining how a business project would stimulate the regional economy and how jobs would develop, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
If all goes smoothly, immigrants benefit from a fast-track to citizenship. To qualify, the foreign investor must commit $1 million to a specific business project. The bar is lowered to $500,000 in areas where unemployment is 1.5 times the national average. In two years time, the foreign national must prove to the government that the investment created 10 jobs either directly or indirectly, said Marilu Cabrera, a spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
EB-5 visas have existed for about 20 years but the popularity of the program has only recently gained speed. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services fielded at least 1,955 project applications in 2010. Less than 800 bids were made three years prior.
The majority of foreign nationals who apply are Chinese citizens, followed by Russians and a sizable number from South Korea, said Kate Kalmykov, a New York City-based lawyer who specializes in EB-5 cases.
A group of China-based investors known as Dashing Pacific has worked closely with Toledo Mayor Mike Bell’s administration to purchase such Downtown properties as The Docks and Marina District. A separate group of Chinese investors bought the Park Inn Hotel. Bell’s former deputy mayor, Dean Monske, is now head of the RGP.