by Jared Polis
With all the disagreement in Washington, D.C. these days, it is rare to find a program that has, or should have, broad appeal to officials of all political persuasions. The EB-5 visa program, with its ability to bring bright, ambitious individuals from across the globe to the United States, pump liquidity into our small businesses, and invigorate our economic recovery, is one of those programs.
When I first heard of the opportunity for investors to immigrate to the United States, I was intrigued, knowing how this could rejuvenate our economy and strengthen companies across our nation. As I learned more about the EB-5 program, I found it to have a laudable mission, but felt strongly that we needed to update and streamline the program for it to reach its full potential.
As an entrepreneur and businessman, I understand the calculations involved in deciding where and how to invest. If an opportunity seems cumbersome and lacks certainty, those are significant negatives and potential deal breakers for many investors. EB-5 needs to be permanently authorized in order to attract more investors, particularly those who are on the fence about whether to bring their funds to the United States.
To address these frequent concerns, I recently introduced The Bipartisan American Entrepreneurship and Investment Act of 2014, a bipartisan EB-5 bill, along with Reps. Matt Salmon, Joe Garcia and Mark Amodei. My bill reauthorizes and makes permanent the EB-5 program to provide this critical certainty to businesses and investors. The bill also reforms the program to make it more efficient, effective, accountable, and user and business friendly.
Despite its flaws, the success of the EB-5 program has been impressive. The statistics speak for themselves. Since 2005, more than $6.5 billion has been invested in qualified American projects, creating 131,000 American jobs. The program puts EB-5 capital to work in a diverse range of industries – from commercial real estate, to energy, to healthcare, and education.
State and local governments have seen firsthand how critical this program is to spurring economic development. The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Association of Counties have both passed resolutions endorsing the program and urging Congress to protect and make permanent the EB-5 program. The members of these organizations are on the ground, everyday, seeing the real impact that foreign investors can have on a community.
I’ve been able to witness the success of EB-5 firsthand in my home state of Colorado. The Colorado Regional Center alone has contributed significantly to the state of Colorado with more than $82 million invested and over 2,100 full-time jobs created over the past few years.
Moreover, the Colorado Regional Center has over $210 million of future EB-5 investment dollars currently in the pipeline. It is estimated that this investment will bring another 5,000 full-time jobs throughout the state.
By providing capital at a time when American financial institutions have been hesitant to lend, EB-5 investors are filling a crucial hole, helping to accelerate our economic recovery, creating jobs and spurring development. They are rebuilding Main Streets and refining our most advanced technologies. The individuals who come to the United States through EB-5 exemplify the American Dream. They have the option to go anywhere in the world, but they choose to come here. They want to be American. They want their children to be American. And they want to invest right here in America.