EB-5 could bring millions in foreign investment
A pipeline that links foreign investors — many of them from China — with job-creating projects in northern Nevada has won approval from federal authorities.
As much as $86 million in foreign investment that creates more than 3,000 jobs in Carson City and nearby counties may be a direct result, says the Northern Nevada Development Authority.
The nonprofit agency won approval from U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services for creation of the Nevada State EB-5 Regional Center.
Working through Regional Centers such as the one that won approval in Carson City, foreigners can earn legal status as residents of the United States for themselves and their families in exchange for investments that create new employment.
Rob Hooper, executive director of NNDA, said last week that the program helps resolve one of the biggest problems — access to capital — for companies that are looking to establish operations in northern Nevada.
Even though the Nevada State EB-5 Regional Center just won approval, Hooper said about NNDA has been in contact with backers of about two dozen proposals ranging from green-energy to technology development to agricultural processing.
“They’re coming out of the woodwork,” he said.
At the same time, the NNDA executive said foreign investors — about 60 percent of them Chinese — already are looking for projects they can fund through the Regional Center.
NNDA, which acts as a matchmaker between foreign investors and job-creating projects in the Sierra region, earns a fee for its work.
Hooper said NNDA will exercise close diligence of projects as well as investors as leaders of the agency view the protection of the region’s reputation as a primary mission.
And he cautioned businesspeople in the region that the Regional Center isn’t going to be an easy source of financing for their projects.
“It’s very slow money,” Hooper said, noting that federal officials can take eight to 11 months just to approve the application of a foreign investor who wants to participate.
And the documentation required by investors as well as the Regional Center is likely to cost $100,000 or more upfront.
NNDA developed the Nevada State E-B Regional Center in partnership with the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation. The Carson City foundation, funded by the trust that owns the Carson Nugget Casino, has spearheaded plans for technology-related development in downtown Carson City.
Steve Neighbors, trustee of the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation, said the Regional Center opens an important pipeline for economic development.
“There are ideas, products and technology across the region ready to become a business when given access to the right funding and opportunity,” Neighbors said.
Hooper said NNDA expects to get the attention of foreign investors because other EB-5 Regional Centers in the United States sometimes are driven primarily by their desire to generate fees without paying sufficient attention to the quality of investors or projects.
“We have a lot of credibility in the marketplace,” he says. “It gives us a pipeline into a major job-creation program.”
Despite ongoing difficulties, Northern Nevada’s office real estate market will endure, experts predict
IGT’s decision to list its 1.2 million sq. ft. campus for lease this month and the recent $3.8 million sale of Harley Davidson’s 3-story financial services building in Carson City are the latest examples of companies no longer needing larger-scale office properties to maintain productivity levels and meet customer needs.