Harry Alford

By Harry C. Alford
NNPA Columnist

The EB-5 Visa program has been in the news lately because of the alleged manipulation of the program by members of the “Clinton Gang.” Among a list of alleged things coming out of this group was a system to pay money to Hillary’s brother, Tony, (she has two in this gang) to have an EB-5 visa approval expedited by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The process usually takes more than two years but this time it was speeded up by many months.

The funding generated by the investment for the visa was then directed to “gang” member Terry McAuliffe (now governor of Virginia) for his electric car venture. Tony got paid; Terry got funded and the electric car venture went south with a “bullet.” The principal at Homeland Security who allowed this happens to be a former California prosecutor who worked with the Clinton gang in getting a convicted cocaine dealer a presidential pardon from President Clinton. It appears that Tony got $200,000 from the grateful drug dealer.

The above will soon come to total light. But let’s focus in on the importance of the EB-5 Visa. What makes it so valuable? It is a way of generating great sums of investment money for infrastructure projects and new ventures. Also, it produces U.S. jobs for communities that need them. Wikipedia has the best description of how the program works:

“The EB-5 visa provides a method of obtaining a green card for foreign nationals who invest money in the United States. To obtain the visa, individuals must invest $1,000,000 (or at least $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area – high unemployment or rural area), creating or preserving at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers excluding the investor and their immediate family. Initially, under the first EB-5 program, the foreign investor was required to create an entirely new commercial enterprise; however, under the Pilot Program investments can be made directly in a job-generating commercial enterprise (new, or existing – “Troubled Business”), or into a “Regional Center” – a 3rd party-managed investment vehicle (private or public), which assumes the responsibility of creating the requisite jobs. Regional Centers may charge an administration fee for managing the investor’s investment.”

This program is doing wonders for areas who have mastered the process. The Regional Center in Washington, D.C. has brought in billions of dollars from a group of investors from Shanghai, China. It started with one investor and through his business associates there are dozens participating. The Shaw District, City Center projects among others are successes because of this program. The Chinese individuals who invested? Their entire immediate family members have Green Cards now and travel through the United States like you and I do. Keep in mind that they will also get a return on their investments.

The most notable in the nation is the Regional Center of Las Vegas. Some successful Las Vegas projects are: Downtown Grand, SLS (Sahara), Lucky Dragon, Dynasty Hotel Casino, Clarion Hotel and World Resorts. Homeland Security is processing about 9,000 applications per year now and cities are starting to understand this profitable game. The U.S. Conference of Mayors held a conference about the program (in Las Vegas of course). We hope our Black mayors will catch on to this opportunity.

The research management firm, Minnesota IMPLAN Group, did a study for the years 2010 – 2011. EB-5 spending in 2010 – 11 supported 28,000 jobs; contributed $2.2 billion to the US gross domestic product (GDP); accounted for $346,790,317 in federal taxes; $218,437,866 in state and local taxes. Twenty-four states took advantage of the program, including California, Florida, Michigan and Texas. EB-5 spending supports jobs in the following industries: Dairy, electric power and natural gas, construction, wineries, commercial, retail, transportation, warehousing and storage, motion picture and video, real estate, home healthcare, hospitals, amusement parks, hotels, food services and student housing.

The process takes more than two years (unless you belong to the “Clinton Gang). There will be screening by the FBI, CIA and other agencies to ensure that all participants are squeaky clean (unless you belong to the “Clinton Gang”). Remember, any foreigner in the world can apply with an American sponsor.

As the Dodd-Frank ruling hurts the potential for maximum traditional bank investing, we can use this to offset the decrease. The National Black Chamber of Commerce is going to promote this for our blighted Black communities. We are in the beginning stages of developing a prototype. The first two markets will be the San Francisco Bay Area and New Orleans. We see investors coming from all continents in the world. We envision projects bringing wealth to our entrepreneurs and vast jobs for our people.

But first we must ensure that the program will become permanent. If Congress does not make it permanent by September, it will go away. We hope that your congressional members will support HR 616 by Representative Amodei (R – NV) which will make the program last forever.

Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.


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