Top 25 Attorneys 2017: Top Business Plan Writers

By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff

EB5 Investors Magazine is pleased to announce the Top 5 Business Plan Writers, selected in an industry-wide vote. To be eligible, distinguished business plan writers needed to draft business plans for groups involved in EB-5 funding.

For more information, or to contact any of these attorneys, we invite you to view their listings at www.EB5Investors.com/directories

Phil Cohen


Strategic Element Inc.

Phil Cohen is the president of Strategic Element Inc, and has been offering professional services in the EB-5 industry since 2010. Strategic Element offers three critical EB-5 services: business plans, economic impact reports and feasibility studies. Strategic Element also published The EB-5 Definitive Guide, a comprehensive publication for EB-5 beginners. Strategic Element has participated in EB-5 deals that have raised, or are raising, over $3.5 billion in EB-5 capital in a variety of industries. Cohen’s prior background includes strategic development work for large public companies, manufacturing companies and start-ups. Since 2010, his firm’s team has grown to include MBAs and PhD economists, who have together contributed to the company’s reputation in the industry. Cohen regularly speaks at and participates in EB-5 events and conferences.

Why I got involved in EB-5:

When I first became aware of EB-5 in 2010, I saw a perfect fit for my skill set, namely strategic development and planning. From an altruistic perspective, I saw an opportunity to become a part of an industry that offered the further benefit of helping to make the American dream a reality for so many people, while at the same time facilitating investments into businesses that would both contribute to the growth of the American economy and the creation of jobs. I can think of few things that could be more rewarding than that as a career choice.

Are you seeing any signs that the community are starting to adjust to possible TEA changes? 

Absolutely. We have noted significant growth in investor demand for such projects in response to proposed legislative changes. Because of shifting demand, we see more of our clients’ projects focused on these areas. The reform I most want to see is dependents removed from the 10,000 visas available annually. This alone would help solve many of the industry’s major challenges. More generally, definitive resolutions to the legislative issues under discussion for so long would be nice. More certainty for developers and investors would allow the industry to accomplish its intent: create jobs and grow the U.S. economy.  

Suzanne Lazicki

Business Writer and Consultant

Lucid Professional Writing

Suzanne Lazicki is a business writer and consultant specializing in the EB-5 program. In eight years since founding Lucid Professional Writing, Lazicki has written over 150 business plans for regional center projects, 88 direct EB-5 business plans and a variety of plans and market reports for non-immigrant investments. She holds degrees in English and Business Administration, and worked for real estate, marketing and investment companies in the United States and China before entering the EB-5 field. Lazicki runs the LucidText weblog, providing EB-5 news and information to readers around the world, and serves on the Editorial Committee for IIUSA. Her articles and presentations include the chapter on business plans in Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs, 3rd Ed. published by AILA.

What new types of projects and trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

In recent years, I’ve seen EB-5 projects become larger and less diverse. In 2009, there were about 70 regional centers and 1,000 EB-5 investments in a year. EB-5 projects tended to be small and represented a variety of industries. Today, there are over 14,000 annual EB-5 investments, of which about 80 percent funds construction and 80 percent was raised by the top 10 percent of regional centers. Processing times, regulation and competition have increased the cost of EB-5 capital and created barriers to entry. At the same time, direct EB-5 has grown in popularity with small business and investors.

Are you seeing any signs that the community are starting to adjust to possible TEA changes?

In my observation, projects in rural and distressed urban areas are finding it increasingly difficult to use EB-5. The current TEA system does not incentivize them, and the industry has aggressively negotiated to weaken TEA reform in proposed legislation. But even with effective incentives, projects in rural and distressed urban areas struggle to use EB-5. Ventures that truly need EB-5 capital can’t afford to wait two years for petition processing. If congress wishes to promote projects in under-capitalized areas, it must define robust incentives and also give USCIS the resources to provide timely processing.

Marisa Marconi

Founder and Lead Writer

Pinnacle Plan Writing LLC

Marisa Marconi is the founder and lead writer at Pinnacle Plan Writing LLC, where she focuses on plans for immigrant and non-immigrant visa petitions. She has been developing detailed business plans since 2007 and has specialized in EB-5 business plans since 2012. Prior to launching Pinnacle, Marconi was the senior project manager and immigration specialist at a major business plan-writing firm in Portland, Oregon. Over the course of her career, Marconi has developed more than 800 business plans for visa petitions, including 275 EB-5 plans for both direct and regional center and has overseen the development of almost 2,500 business plans for entrepreneurs seeking bank loans, angel funding or venture capital. Her portfolio includes plans for companies spanning a multitude of industries, ranging from small businesses operating on a local level, to large, multinational ventures. Marconi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Columbia University.

Why Did Get Involved in the EB-5 Industry?

Starting in 2011, I started to see a sharp increase in inquiries from developers and attorneys in need of plans for EB-5 projects. As the program evolved and Matter of Ho came into play, I realized that the business plan was an increasingly important component of the overall EB-5 process and that plans for EB-5 projects required a higher level of detail, attention and complexity than traditional business plans. I like a challenge and I support programs that promote investment and growth in communities, so shifting my focus to the EB-5 space was an easy choice.

Are you seeing any signs that the community is starting to adjust to possible TEA changes?  

I have seen an increase in projects in smaller metro areas that were hit hard by the recession and suffered losses in major industries, but are now recovering and being reinvented. It’s great to see the EB-5 program playing a role in the revitalization of downtown areas in places like upstate New York. I would love to see more projects in my town (Portland, Oregon) and some of the rural communities around here. I think that infrastructure projects could emerge as good opportunities for investors and developers if TEA rules change.  

Tom Martin

Vice President

Baker Tilly Capital LLC

Tom Martin is a vice president with Baker Tilly Capital LLC and currently leads the EB-5 U.S. consulting practice. With over five years of EB-5 experience, Martin chiefly works within the EB-5 practice areas to structure EB-5 offerings for qualifying projects and businesses. Martin has personally overseen the completion of more than 500 economic impact reports and business plans related to EB-5 and other immigration related programs. He serves as a strategic advisor to regional centers, developers and project owners utilizing EB-5 financing to fund economic development across the United States. Martin has also participated in the formation and approval of over 60 regional centers and assisted in the structuring of successful raises of EB-5 capital. Prior to Baker Tilly, Martin worked in education and sales. He has taught and presented to small and large groups and he has a love and passion for teaching and facilitating.

What new types of projects and trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

This year we are seeing projects with smaller EB-5 raises, under $30 million, and more interest in the direct EB-5 program. Real estate projects, primary multi-family housing and mixed use projects, are still dominant; however, we are increasingly helping clients that are working on restaurants, technology and smaller manufacturing projects. This trend in smaller raises is likely to continue as uncertainty about potential changes in the program linger and clients are looking to quickly capitalize their projects ahead of any significant changes to the program.

Are you seeing any signs that the community are starting to adjust to possible TEA changes, turning to more rural or distressed area projects?

There is a significant increase in new projects in rural and distressed areas. We help clients determine whether a project qualifies as rural or distressed urban and identify for which new markets tax credits criteria the project may qualify. A project meeting such criteria could have a marketing advantage should the legislation change that sets aside visas for these subgroups. I think most EB-5 industry stakeholders agree that the stability of the EB-5 program is critical for the industry’s long-term success. Congress will hopefully address the visa cap by removing derivatives from the allocation and increase integrity measures to ensure the program’s future vitality.

Bernard Rojano

Principal and Lead Consultant

Xecute Business Plan Solutions

Bernard Rojano is the principal and lead consultant at Xecute Business Plan Solutions, which he founded in 2008. At that time, Rojano was primarily assisting clients to navigate through mergers and acquisitions when his first EB-5 client engaged him to manage an EB-5 regional center application. Since then, Rojano and his team have consulted for over 100 regional centers, raised and deployed more than $700 million into projects, and modeled and written more than 400 EB-5 project and regional center business plans. Rojano speaks at conferences around the world on the EB-5 program with the goal of promoting the EB-5 program and staying in tune with the immigrant investment and international capital markets to better serve his clients.

Why did you get involved in the EB-5 industry?

I founded Xecute Business Plan Solutions 10 years ago with a mergers and acquisitions platform, but the capital markets dried up in 2007 and EB-5 capital was a solution for many of our clients’ projects that were starving for equity and debt. We were good at documentation, project development and storytelling to raise capital so business planning for the EB-5 program and immigrant investment was a natural fit for us.

What new types of projects and trends are you seeing in the EB-5 industry?

We see smaller and more intimate projects developed by our clients and we are adjusting to help get them funded. We continue to work on great real estate projects, but we also see manufacturing, energy, tech and other industries tapping into the EB-5 capital resource. The investors and brokers are finding these investments more appealing as of late.

Are you seeing any signs that the community are starting to adjust to possible TEA changes?

We need stability with the program in the form of a long-term extension, reduced adjudicating periods and increased visa numbers to cover the demand from China and other growing markets. Our clients are very resourceful in developing attractive projects.


EB5Investors.com Staff

EB5Investors.com Staff