If Northeast Ohio is to succeed in the global economy it must be able to prepare, attract and retain world-class talent. One program that could help the region achieve that goal goes by the very bureaucratic sounding moniker “EB-5.” Under the EB-5 program immigrants willing to invest $500,000 in economic development projects in a region are eligible to obtain visas to live in the United States.
Philadelphia has been using the program for five years to attract more than $200 million in foreign investment for projects that range from manufacturing plants to reastaurants. You can learn about some the deals done in that community here.
The Cleveland Council on World Affairs has been interested in finding an economic development project that might be an attractive applicant to join the federal program. And the Wooster Growth Corp. believes they have just such a project in the BioHio Research Park, which is being developed adjacent to the world-class research center operated by Ohio State University in that Wayne County community. Wooster Growth is an economic development organization created by the city of Wooster to spur economic development. It is working with OSU to develop BioHio at the Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center.
The OARDC is working with Wooster Growth and the Wayne Economic Development Council to attract companies to the park that are interested in taking advantage of the world-class research done at the center. Wooster Growth is hoping to build a $7.5 million building in the park, with some of the financing coming from foreign investors participating in the EB-5 program, according to this story written by Bryan Schaaf of the Wooster Daily Record.
Mark Santo of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs told me it will likely take more than a year to get federal approval for the project. But he’s optimistic approval can be obtained, and if it is, he believes more projects in Northeast Ohio could be funded through the EB-5 program.
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