Need investors for a big development or construction project? How about money for infrastructure needs?
You may want to attend an informational meeting at 3:30 p.m.Thursday at the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Arthur Davis Conference Room, 700 Locust St.
Because there’s a supply of foreign money you can tap into, according to a company that is administering an economic development tool being sharpened by the Iowa Economic Development Authority.
Turns out there are a lot of wealthy people in other countries – mainly China right now – who would like to emigrate to the United States.
It turns out also, that there is a federal immigration visa called EB5, which is available to foreign investors who invest in U.S. companies that create jobs. Kim Atteberry worked as an economist with the federal government on that program. Now she is vice president of project development for CMB, a company that contracts with various states, including Iowa, to take advantage of the EB5 visa rules.
Iowa had used the EB5 program, with limited success, a few years back to find investors to support the Iowa dairy industry, said Atteberry. Now, the state has expanded it to metropolitan areas and hired CMB to put together investors to invest in construction companies and project.
Here’s how it works:
The program says the foreigners who invest in a U.S. company that creates at least 10 jobs for at least two years will be granted a green card, which means they can then live and work here and, if they choose, become naturalized citizens, said Atteberry. The law allows the investor, their spouse, and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to emigrate here.
“These are all wealthy, sophisticated people,” said Atteberry. “This is not really an investment vehicle for them, it’s an immigration pathway.”
Their goals, she said, are in this order: to emigrate to the United States; not to lose the money they have invested; and lastly to get some financial return.
CMB’s job is to find lots of these investors and pool their small investments into a larger fund that typically finances a multimillion-dollar project, she said. It’s a long (at least two years) and cumbersome process, which is why CMB has been hired to administer it.
CMB has been active in this business since 2007 and is working on projects in several states, she said. To date, it has about 1,400 foreign investors moving through the immigration pipeline and 100 of them have received green cards, said Atteberry.
“A small contractor is proably not going to be viable for EB5,” said Atteberry “because it costs thousands of dollars to put this together and get it approved” by the federal government. “Our preferred project is definitely over $25 million.”
Thursday's session is free to attend, but attendees should click here to register.