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EB5 INVESTORS MAGAZINE

Top 25 Attorneys 2019: Top Business Plan Writers

EB5 Investors Magazine is pleased to announce the Top 5 Business Plan Writers. 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 professionals, 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 a vice president at Altytude Advisers. Strategic Element has been offering professional services in the EB-5 industry since 2010, including business plans, economic impact reports and feasibility studies, and has participated in offerings totaling over $3.5 billion in EB-5 capital. In 2018, Cohen expanded his involvement in the EB-5 industry by participating in the development and launch of Altytude Advisors to address EB-5 redeployment. He regularly speaks at and participates in EB-5 events and conferences and was also the founder of The EB-5 Definitive Guide. 

Why Did you Get Involved in the EB-5 Industry? 

The EB-5 program provided an opportunity to become a part of an industry that offered the dual benefits of helping to make the American dream a reality for 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.  A win for all involved.  

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

There was a marked slow-down in the industry when the new rules took effect, however, we are now starting to see that a new paradigm is taking hold and a new crop of projects and regional centers have started to move ahead in the first fiscal quarter of 2020 with fresh inquiries on the rise.

WILLIAM DEAN

MASTERPLANS 

William Dean is the vice president of immigration at Masterplans, an Inc. 500 business plan writing company founded in 2002. He directs a senior team of market research and financial modeling experts who create visa-ready plans through referrals from 300 law offices nationwide. Dean specializes in reviewing client files and RFEs to help E, L-1, National Interest Waiver and EB-5 applicants secure their visas.  He first encountered EB-5 in 2008, and since that time has overseen more than 2,000 visa business plans. Dean is a frequent speaker on investment immigration panels. He previously worked at the law firm Stoel Rives, and has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.

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

My involvement with EB-5 was almost accidental. I’d been working as a paralegal on construction trials, but as a recent English major, I wanted a career where I could actually write. I came to Masterplans in 2005 to learn the business plan ropes by creating simple proposals for SBA funding and doing market research for investment proposals. I also studied the E and L visa project requirements, and quickly loved writing those plans. Eventually, I earned the opportunity to develop the business plan used in the I-924 for a proposed regional center in Florida, which USCIS approved in 2010. By then, I was focused exclusively on immigration and business development, actively networking with attorneys whose clients needed business-related visas.

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

I’ve encountered so few EB-5 projects since November that it would be misleading to identify some pattern.  Prospective clients I’ve met are either flustered by USCIS controlling the TEA designations, or still navigating the higher investment minimums.  The only trend that’s noteworthy here is the groundswell of substitute visa filings, primarily the nonimmigrant E-2 and the intracompany transferee L-1.  For us, there’s been a marked increase in E visas across all business types, especially from Europe. We sometimes work with Chinese nationals who’ve chosen the citizenship by investment path to qualify, but most plans we prepare are traditional E-2s.  For now, this seems to be the future.

SUZANNE LAZICKI

LUCID PROFESSIONAL WRITING 

Suzanne Lazicki is a business writer and consultant specializing in the EB-5 program. In 10 years since founding Lucid Professional Writing, Lazicki has written hundreds of business plans for regional center and direct EB-5 projects, and a variety of plans and market reports for nonimmigrant investments. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Master of Business Administration. Lazicki runs blog.lucidtext.com, providing EB-5 news, data and analysis to readers around the world. Her published work includes articles on business plans in the third and fourth editions of “Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs,” published by AILA.  

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

I got involved in the EB-5 industry in 2009, when EB-5 represented hope for U.S. projects struggling with the recession, and for immigrants shut out of other categories and countries. With little competition, no backlogs and swift processing times, EB-5 offered low-cost capital and a visa fast track. I stayed with EB-5 through an increasingly tough decade, because writing for this field fits my particular skills, interests, and international background.  

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

Since the regulations took effect, I’ve seen regional centers and project companies tentatively trying out the same types of projects that they did before, testing what will work in the current market. The targeted employment area restrictions limit the number of projects being considered, while the price increase moderates the size of offerings. With the regulations in place, focus has shifted to challenges from visa availability, backlogs, processing times and shifting USCIS standards. The industry must navigate contracting EB-5 demand while supporting past investors who depend on long-term commitment to the program. 

MARISA MARCONI

PINNACLE PLAN WRITING 

Marisa Marconi is the founder and lead writer at Pinnacle Plan Writing. She has 13 years of experience in the business planning industry and has developed more than 975 business plans for visa petitions, including 350 EB-5 plans of direct and regional center projects. She formed Pinnacle in 2016 to focus on developing thorough and highly tailored plans for the immigration market. Her portfolio includes plans for small to large companies and projects in almost every industry. Marconi holds a degree in English from Columbia University. 

Why Did you Get Involved in the EB-5 Industry? 

I started focusing on immigration and the EB-5 industry back when the program was really starting to gain traction and swell with interest from China.  As the requirements for EB-5 business plans became more stringent and specific with Matter of Ho, it became apparent that regional centers and investors would benefit from professional writers and researchers that understood the EB-5 market. This type of work is meaningful to me, not only because these projects create jobs for local communities, but because the plans I develop also contribute to helping immigrants find their place in the U.S.  

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

Since the new regulations passed in November 2019, I’ve seen a precipitous drop in new projects. The interest that I am seeing is largely in direct projects for single investors. I think we’re in an expected post-regulations cooling-off period, where the market is waiting to see if any new legislation pans out and the industry is waiting to see what happens with the market. Despite the changes, I believe the program will remain in demand in emerging markets that are not in retrogression, and we’ll see more projects in new geographies that still qualify as TEAs.  

TOM MARTIN

BAKER TILLY CAPITAL LLC

Tom Martin is the managing director with Baker Tilly and currently leads the EB-5 U.S. consulting practice. With over eight years of EB-5 experience, Martin works within the EB-5 practice areas to structure EB-5 offerings for qualifying projects and businesses. He has personally overseen the completion of more than 700 economic impact reports and 1,000 business plans as well as the creation of hundreds of source of funds analysis for EB-5 investors. He serves as a strategic advisor to regional centers, developers and project owners utilizing EB-5 financing. Prior to Baker Tilly, he worked in education and sales.

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

I enjoy working with groups and individuals to help meet their needs and I saw an incredible opportunity to help people navigate through the complex environment of EB-5. The role of consultant is to help clients reduce complicated matters and avoid making costly mistakes. I am proud of the role we have had in helping hundreds of our clients be successful in achieving their EB-5 goals. 

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

There is still a strong interest in EB-5 and we are seeing the industry looking for great projects that remain in TEA eligible areas. Projects that are in rural areas are highly desirable right now. We continue to see projects utilizing smaller EB-5 raises, under $30 million, that focus on multi-family housing and mixed-use projects as well as hospitality. However, we are increasingly helping clients that are working to develop restaurants, technology and manufacturing projects. With pending legislation likely to pass soon, it is anticipated that more projects will qualify for TEA and we could see a significant increase in projects seeking EB-5 funding. 

EB5Investors.com Staff

EB5Investors.com Staff

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