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EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

Top 25 Attorneys 2018: Top 5 Economists

By EB5 Investors Magazine Staff

EB5 Investors Magazine is pleased to announce the Top 5 Economists. To be eligible, distinguished economists needed to draft economic impact studies for the EB-5 industry.

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

KIMBERLY ATTEBERRY

VERMILION CONSULTING LLC | PRESIDENT

Kimberly Atteberry is the president of Vermilion Consulting LLC. Vermilion helps varied organizations leverage the benefits of the Immigrant Investor Program (EB-5). Vermilion Consulting provides expert advice on project feasibility, EB-5-compliant business plans, job-creation analysis and targeted employment area (TEA) analysis. Prior to Vermilion, Atteberry was the chief economist of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In 2000 and 2002, she taught economics and marketing at the United States Air Force Academy as one of a select group of civilian instructors.

WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

In 2009, I was hired by USCIS as the agency’s first economist. After a short time there, I was asked to launch and lead a new division within USCIS focused on economic and statistical analysis. While my duties ranged from procurement oversight to regulatory analysis to special projects for leadership, my most interesting task was to train and advise EB-5 adjudicators on economic impact studies, business plan review and unemployment analysis. Once I left government employment, it made sense to incorporate EB-5 work into my overall consulting practice.

WHAT NEW TYPES OF PROJECTS AND TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

Given recent uncertainties in our industry, I have seen a shift toward pursuing rural projects and obtaining approval for regional centers that include extensive rural areas. More importantly, since the SEC has started to enforce securities laws within the EB-5 industry, and USCIS has begun to terminate unlawful and unproductive regional centers, it seems the industry is shedding many entities that probably should not have been in EB-5 in the first place. As a result, project quality has improved significantly as well-educated professionals enter the industry.

JEFFREY CARR

ECONOMIC POLICY RESOURCES | PRESIDENT

Jeffrey Carr is president of EPR, with more than 35 years of experience as an economist. Carr has completed more than 250 EB-5 assignments in 47 states and territories, including impact studies and business plans for investor petition https://www.eb5investors.com/admin/magazine/edit/619filings, TEAs and regional center business-operations plans. He has lectured on EB-5 throughout the U.S. and China. Carr also has extensive experience in applied economics, including economic tax revenue forecasting; economic, regional economic and fiscal impact analyses; and presenting state economic fiscal data to Wall Street bond rating agencies. Carr formerly worked in the U.S. Congress for a member from Michigan.

WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

EPR had been in the business of completing economic impact studies for more than 20 years when the state of Vermont first contacted us in 1997 about assisting with a regional center application. EB-5 impact assessment studies and our expert witness experience in legal cases were a logical extension of our core competencies for success in EB-5. The more we got involved in the EB-5 industry, the more excited we became about helping immigrant workers and their families throughout the country. We continue to bring that same level of excitement to all of our EB-5 projects today.

WHAT NEW TYPES OF PROJECTS AND TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

Like everyone, we remain hopeful that a consensus on a workable set of EB-5 reforms can be reached to potentially be a path to a reasonable number of additional visas for the program. Until that occurs, it seems unlikely that activity within the EB-5 industry will be able to recover to a level to make the program a solid contributor to U.S. job growth. Key points of reform discussion are going to continue to revolve around the minimum investment amount, how to fairly define TEAs, the adoption of regional center integrity measures, and additional safeguards to assure national security.

ISMAEL FERNÁNDEZ

GREENGATE CONSULTING | FOUNDER & PRESIDENT

Ismael Fernández, originally from Madrid, Spain, is the founder and president of Greengate Consul ting, an Atlanta-based consultancy firm. With a PhD and MBA from Georgia Tech, Fernández, an author in the technology valuation field, extended his career into EB-5 as an economist, given his experience in financial modeling. Prior to founding Greengate, Fernández was a senior manager at General Electric, leading a global team forecasting demand for gas turbine parts — a $1 billion business. Since 2010, Fernández has assisted hundreds of firms to get established in the U.S. and secured dozens of I-526, I-924 and I-829 approvals for his clients.

WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

The EB-5 industry was a natural extension to the practice I founded when leaving GE. Given my background and origin, I fit well in the shoes of foreign investors looking to migrate to the U.S. for business purposes. My practice aimed for families who were seeking to start their business in the U.S. I quickly learned about the requirements of the EB-5 regional center program and got really excited about economic modeling in 2012. Since I was accustomed to building complex financial models for engineering decision making, I found EB-5 economic models a natural extension to my education and skillset

WHAT NEW TYPES OF PROJECTS AND TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

I try to be optimistic about the market despite the environment. After all, the U.S. continues to be the world’s largest economy and a magnet for business. I think the age of large regional centers controlling the market might be reaching and end due to the increased cost to market. Smaller projects, in which developers can secure personal relationships abroad, are going to have a competitive advantage when it comes to funding small projects. I also think that manufacturing hasn’t really taken advantage of the program yet, and that is a change that I see in my portfolio of clients.

AARON GOFORTH

BAKER TILLY CAPITAL LLC | PRINCIPAL

Aaron Goforth, principal of Baker Tilly Capital, LLC, the wholly owned F INRA broker dealer subsidiary of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, is an industry leader in preparing economic analyses and business plans for regional centers working with the EB-5 program. Goforth has broad experience in helping clients and organizations identify, prioritize and execute on strategic goals to drive top-line growth. Prior to joining Baker Tilly, Goforth served as president of Wright Johnson. During his tenure as the president, he consistently facilitated exponential year-on-year growth. Goforth is well-regarded in the industry and sought as a speaker for EB-5 conferences.

WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

Initially, I became involved in the EB-5 industry because I was intrigued by the concept and opportunities associated with employment-based immigration. Yet, over time, I have thoroughly enjoyed the interplay between the personal stories of EB-5 investors and the social and economic impacts those individuals and their investments have brought to the United States. EB-5 investors obviously contribute to job creation based on their investment. However, they also enrich our society by bringing their ideas, families and culture to the United States.

WHAT NEW TYPES OF PROJECTS AND TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

Increased geographical diversity of EB-5 investors, as well as a decrease in the overall total number of investors, has resulted in more diverse projects going to market and being funded. While the majority of projects I see are still real-estate based, the overall capital stack of such a project as well as the corresponding EB-5 component is much smaller than even two years ago. Another approach I am seeing is the “friends and family” deal, meaning a U.S. entrepreneur of foreign descent will recruit friends and family living in a different country to invest into their project. These types of opportunities have produced more diversity in the EB-5 market.

MICHAEL KESTER

IMPACT DATASOURCE | PARTNER & LEAD EB-5 ECONOMIST

Michael Kester is partner and lead EB-5 economist with Impact DataSource. Established in 1993, Impact DataSource is a Texas-based consulting firm specializing in economic and fiscal impact research services. The firm began offering specialized EB-5 services in 2010. Kester leads the firm’s specialized EB-5 economics team, which offers consulting, analyses and deliverables that reflect the needs of EB-5 clients and ever-changing requirements of USCIS. The EB-5 team has completed more than 450 comprehensive EB-5 economic studies, assisted clients in obtaining more than a thousand TEA letters and successfully helped clients on many complex EB-5 cases.

WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

Leveraging its more than 20 years of experience, Impact DataSource entered the world of EB-5 service providers in 2010, focusing on economic analysis, when an existing client asked us to help on an EB-5 project. We were able to leverage our background to help that client on our first successful EB-5 project. Impact DataSource’s EB-5 team now consists of three dedicated and specialized EB-5 economists assisting a variety of clients in completing their EB-5 documentation and meeting their goal of creating U.S. jobs and growing the nation’s economy.

WHAT NEW TYPES OF PROJECTS AND TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY?

While the majority of projects that we see are still hotels, multi-family, mixed-use and similar real estate projects, over the past year or so we have seen a small but noticeable increase in other project types such as manufacturing, solar and infrastructure-based projects.

EB5Investors.com Staff

EB5Investors.com Staff

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