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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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Economic Development

CRS Pursuing Foreign Investor Visa Program for Local Area

Category: Economic Development

SBJ Staff

The Coastal Regional Commission’s (CRC) Department of Economic Development released its August Project Summary report last week. Included was an update on attracting foreign investors using the “EB-5 visa program,” which allows foreign investors to purchase a green card and earn U.S. citizenship if they invest in U.S. businesses. 
This regional approach to economic development is still a growing concept, with the CRC’s power continuing to mature.   
The Georgia Department of Economic Development began in earnest last year to require a regional approach to economic development, requiring each county to work in cooperation with its regional commission rather than pursuing new jobs and industry to their individual counties, sometimes in a vacuum and sometimes in cross purposes with other counties.
“The goal is to bring jobs to our region and to Georgia, no matter which county they are located in,” explained Allen Burns, Coastal Georgia’s CRC executive director.
The CRC listed five projects it was working on in the August report.  They are: 
Thunderbolt Marine’s fire suppression issue. The town of Thunderbolt needs a new water well and increased pipe line capacity in order to increase the water supply and pressure needed by the company to adequately suppress workplace fires, according to the CRC.  Thunderbolt had been looking at a dedicated water line to the plant to solve the problem. SEDA has been active in working with the city to resolve the problem so that he company can begin a $5 million expansion.  The CRC hopes resolution will be completed by January 2010.  The company has been growing over the past five years and a number of new jobs will be created if the yacht marina and retrofit company can expand.
The Herty Advanced Materials, Savannah, previously announced expansion is now  on hold. “Herty is in need of funding to support their expansion,” according to the CRC.  A completion date for the expansion has been pushed off to December 2010.  The Herty Advanced Materials Development Center is a nonprofit, contractual, research and development organization created by an act of the Georgia legislature in 1938 for the purpose of developing the forest resources of the state and the region.
Herty has been a leader in the red-hot biofuels development business, along with its success in other unrelated production work – contract projects undertaken under contract from manufacturers throughout the U.S. and in Europe which has sparked an expansion interest for the organization.
Gerald Farms, a local company in Statesboro that produces carrots for Walmart stores, is in need of funding to support desired expansion.  June 2010 has been projected as the completion date for identifying the funding to allow the company to grow.
The EB-5 Investor Visa Program is projected to begin by December 2009 in the Coastal region.  The EB-5 law allows foreigners to purchase green cards by investing between $500,000 and $1 million into new commercial enterprises or troubled businesses. After two years, foreign investors, their spouses, and children all receive permanent resident status.  The report to the council members states, “work is being conducted to begin an investor visa program for the benefit of project support in coastal Georgia.”
Under current INS regulations, the investment must be in a for-profit commercial enterprise for the conduct of lawful business. The business may be a sole proprietorship, a limited or general partnership, a holding company, a joint venture, a corporation, a business trust, or other public or privately owned entity. A new commercial enterprise may be established through the creation of an original business, purchase of an existing business and restructuring and reorganizing it into a new commercial enterprise, or the expansion of an existing business through a 40 percent net increase in its net worth or in the number of employees.
Tiger Grant Project with Georgia Ports Authority was completed in August, a project to repair dock space at the East River port in Brunswick.

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