While a number of businesses in the Jay area of Vermont have struggled to bring in money, Jay Peak ski resort has been able to secure significant funding from foreign investors, NPR reports.
“We’ve raised almost $200 million of equity capital to transform Jay Peak from a winter-only ski resort to a true 52-week-a-year resort facility,” Bill Stenger, the owner of the resort, told the news provider.
In addition to the 80 ski trails at Jay Peak, the resort includes a hotel, ice arena and golf course. A large water park with a retractable glass dome for the winter is also under construction, the news source said.
Stenger told the news source that he is particularly pleased that there are approximately 50 local workers employed by the resort who operate Caterpillar trucks made in America.
“They were all born and raised in this area – went to North Country High School, the career center, some to Vermont Tech, and now they are working at Jay Peak building this facility,” he said.
Much of these jobs and funding for the resort’s facilities have come from overseas investors through the federal EB-5 visa program. Through this program, foreign nationals are eligible to obtain a U.S. green card if they invest $1 million (or $500,000 in some areas) in an American company or project that either maintains or creates at least 10 full-time jobs.
According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are more than 135 EB-5 regional centers around the country. One such regional center, which covers the entire state of Vermont, specializes in the ski and tourism industry, education, manufacturing, professional services and information publishing, according to the USCIS.
In all, 10,000 visas are set aside each year for the EB-5 program, with half of them allotted for investors going through regional centers and investing in existing businesses, according to the news source. The other half is set aside for entrepreneurs looking to start their own business through an investment.
In order to continue attracting foreign nationals to the EB-5 visa program, a number of supporters from both political parties have attempted to get it renewed in Congress. At his recent inauguration speech, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin said that one of the state’s top priorities should be to take better advantage of the EB-5 program in order to help Vermont companies, such as Jay Peak, to receive necessary overseas funding.