The Real Deal Miami

Miami’s EB-5 regional center to shut down

Center didn't generate any money or produce visas since launching in 2014
By Keith Larsen | April 26, 2018 02:30PM

Miami City Manager Emilio González and Panorama Tower

Miami’s EB-5 regional center will be shut down for failing to generate economic activity and create jobs.

Founded in 2014 under former Mayor Tomás Regalado and led by attorney Mikki Canton, the center was supposed to inject foreign investment into Miami’s economy through a visa program known as EB-5. But the regional center did not generate any money, nor did it produce any visas.

Miami City Manager Emilio González confirmed that the regional center will close. The South Florida Business Journal first reported the news.

Under the EB-5 program, foreign investors can obtain permanent residence in the U.S. through passive investment of $500,000 in a business enterprise that creates at least 10 new jobs. While the program has allowed real estate developers to obtain financing on attractive terms for some big projects, it has also become the victim of abuse and fraud.

The first project to receive an EB-5 designation through the city’s regional center was Tibor Hollo’s Panorama Tower in 2014, which was seeking 99 investors injecting $49.5 million into the development, creating 2,500 jobs. But the project reportedly never received any money from the center.

Canton, former managing director of Miami’s regional center, resigned after González became city manager in January. Regional centers are organizations approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to assist developers and entrepreneurs in making their projects eligible for the EB-5 program. Investors seeking EB-5 visas can still go through the privately funded centers or through the state’s regional office.