Here’s An Immigration Idea on How to Create Jobs Here in Westchester…


With recent County budgets calling for a combination of deep spending cuts, there is no time like the present to take a page from President Bill Clinton’s playbook and find a “third way” or triangulate on fiscal matters. One way to find this “third way” would be for the County to get itself designated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service as an EB-5 Regional Center to foster direct investment to our area.


The concept of the EB-5 program profoundly turns the traditional xenophobic understanding of immigration and American job loss on its head. Under the EB-5 investor visa program, foreigners earn their permanent U.S. residency in exchange for helping to create U.S. jobs.


The EB-5 program requires a foreigner to invest $1 million in an urban area or a $500,000 investment in rural or targeted empolyment areas (administered by a “regional center”) and the creation of 10 permanent U.S. jobs. The investment must also remain “at risk” without repayment for a period of two full years.


A regional center markets investment opportunities that attract immigrant investors, and directs their pooled or individual investments toward industrial and community projects that the regional center identifies.


Like the entire States of Vermont and Hawaii or Palm Beach County, Florida, the District of Columbia, and even New York City’s five boroughs, Westchester County can and should establish itself as an EB-5 Regional Center. Nationwide, there are only about 60 EB-5 Regional Centers, with the bulk of them clustered in California. There are only three in New York and none impact Westchester County.


With the U.S. dollar’s sharp fall against many foreign currencies, there is no better time to tap into foreign sources of capital than now as the required investment is very affordable to many foreigners. Some examples of industries that are the recipients of EB-5 investor funds through Regional Centers include: light manufacturing, commerical property development, medical care, small business financing, agricultural enterprises, hotels, transit development, movie studios, museums, and education facilities – the list of industry type is limitless so long as American jobs are created.


For those who doubt the efficacy of such investor visa programs, consider this: as of 2008, Vermont’s Jay Peak Resort’s EB-5 program was expected to produce 2000 jobs in the area both directly and indirectly as a result of the expansion and construction of the resort’s hotels and other infrastructure. Around the country, the most successful regional centers have attracted more than 1,000 investors and $500 million to various projects administrered through the regional center.


Just imagine what we could do right here in Westchester with millions in EB-5 funds flowing into economic development projects? Think a new downtown hotel in Mt. Vernon, a new solar panel plant in Yonkers, vinyards in Cortlandt, or a movie studio in Peekskill.