Politicians eye visa program to pay for infrastructure projects

EB-5 investments cheaper than traditional funding

TRD New York /
Nov.November 19, 2014 01:10 PM

With state officials in New York and New Jersey looking to scare up funds to complete large infrastructure projects such as the financially strapped $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, politicians and bankers in New York and New Jersey are now eyeing the EB-5 visa program as a possible solution.

The program offers fast-track to citizenship for non-U.S. citizens who invest in at least $500,000 in approved projects that last more than two years and create jobs. State officials and financial sector players are meeting this week to discuss how to convince these overseas investors to put their money into infrastructure projects, the New York Post reported.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie may attend the private gathering, although the paper could not confirm the governors would be present, the newspaper said.

To get EB-5 funds, an entity called a Regional Center is set up. That agency then directs investors to projects. Construction jobs on infrastructure projects also qualify for the program.

Real estate developers have increasingly been tapping EB-5 capital because the interest rates on the funds are lower than more traditional financing like bank loans.

Questions remain about the funding for work on the Tappan Zee Bridge. A New York court ruled Clean Water Act money could not go towards the project. Toll hikes have also been ruled out. [NYP]TRD

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