GlobeSt.com quoted me in Congress Moves to Revamp EB-5. It reads in part,
Last week Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Senator Patrick Leahy introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and reform the EB-5 Regional Center program.
This did not come as a surprise to the commercial real estate industry, which has been watching the approaching Sept. 30, 2015 deadline with a mixture of dread and anticipation.
Simply put, the program has become an increasingly popular funding source for projects, David Cohen, a shareholder at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Washington DC, tells GlobeSt.com.
“As the popularity of the EB-5 program has grown in the last few years, so too has the scope of the deals its being used to fund,” he says. “There is far more money at stake than there was even a few years ago.”
The changes proposed in the bill — officially called the American Job Creation and Investment Promotion Reform Act — touched upon some of the more controversial parts of the program. It proposes strengthening oversight by Department of Homeland Security and Securities and Exchange Commission oversight and putting in place measures that would discourage fraud. Overall, national security would have a greater focus this time around.
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The EB-5 program “has a very interesting mix of policy goals, including immigration, community development and employment ones,” says David Reiss, a law professor at Brooklyn Law School and research director of the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship (CUBE).
It also has a great deal of flexibility – and many say too much flexibility, he continues. “For instance, companies have been able to characterize hot locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan as areas of high unemployment by defining the targeted employment area expansively,” he tells GlobeSt.com.
“For instance, the biggest real estate project in Brooklyn, Pacific Park — formerly known as Atlantic Yards –used nearby neighborhoods with high unemployment for an EB-5 investment located in a relatively low unemployment area,” he says.
In short, “there is a lot of talk of reform of the program that comes from all different directions – raise the minimum investment amount! – ensure that the targeted employment area is more narrowly drawn! – establish national standards!” Reiss says.
“But it is too early to tell which reforms might stick.”