Wednesday, April 9, 2014
LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today announced Michigan has officially become one of only two states in the nation with a state run EB-5 Regional Center aimed at attracting foreign investors who want to live, work and create jobs here.
With expedited approval by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) in late March, the State of Michigan EB-5 Regional Center — part of the Michigan Community Development Corporation (MCDC) and staffed by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) – is poised to join Vermont as the only other state run entity with this unique investment and immigration opportunity.
“This approval is an important step in helping harness top talent and international direct investment into the state to continue and accelerate Michigan’s comeback,” Gov. Snyder said. “Our state needs outstanding talent to help drive the new economy. Immigrants are net job creators. In return, Michigan offers a wonderful place to live, work, play and raise a family.”
Snyder said the Michigan EB-5 Regional Center will act as a vehicle to connect eligible foreign investors with potential development projects across the state, which in return could lead to permanent residency for them and their families. Investors will come from a variety of sources, including individuals and contacts made through Michigan’s colleges and universities hoping to retain and attract current and former students.
It was one of the three immigration-related proposals the governor highlighted or alluded to in his 2014 State of the State address. The Center will work in coordination with the Michigan Office for New Americans that was created by Executive Order in late January.
Immigration Policy Center data indicates that Michigan’s immigrants are six times more likely to start a high-tech firm than U.S. born residents. In that same study, it said Michigan’s foreign born were more than three times as likely to start a new business between 1996 and 2007 as the native-born population.
Scott Woosley, executive director of MSHDA and president and CEO of the MCDC, said Michigan is eager to deepen relationships internationally and bring home investment, projects, jobs and possible new residents critical to Michigan’s future.
“It’s anticipated that once up and running the regional center will generate $30-50 million of new private equity for projects each year and create 600 new jobs in communities where they are much needed,” Woosley said.
This EB – or employment based – 5th preference visa program allows investors and their families to obtain permanent residency by investing in an enterprise that creates at least 10 direct or indirect jobs in Michigan. Investments can range from $500,000 to $1 million, depending on whether the qualifying project is in a distressed area considered a targeted employment zone (TEA) or not. A TEA is considered anywhere employment is at or above 150% of the national unemployment rate. There are currently 433 eligible areas in Michigan.
The approval process for the regional center was swift. What normally takes nine to 12 months was expedited in less than 80 days. Woosley attributed the unusually fast approval to the strong support of Gov. Snyder, the entire Michigan Congressional delegation and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.
Snyder and Woosley both said that Mayor Duggan was instrumental in advancing this process, writing a letter of support and in meetings with President Obama and White House officials explaining how a regional center would positively impact the change that is happening in Detroit.
With the approval step cleared, the MCDC can finalize the process for a formal call for projects, which must meet an underwriting process that is under development. Mixed use developments, senior public housing, public-private university projects and hotel/condo projects are just some of the projects that could be considered. Each project must be preapproved by the USCIS in order to be eligible to qualify for EB-5 green cards.
The Center will work to ensure that each of the projects in its portfolio meets strict underwriting standards designed to satisfy the EB-5 requirements and to give investors the confidence that an investment through the Michigan EB-5 Regional Center is thoroughly vetted. The EB-5 program provides for the USCIS’s completion of the visa application approval process once an investment has resulted in the creation of at least 10 full-time jobs in Michigan and the EB-5 requirements are met.
The new regional center could close on its first project as early as the end of the year.
For more information, contact Joe Borgstrom, director of the new Michigan EB-5 Regional Center at the MCDC, at BorgstromJ@michigan.gov.