A new city initiative plans to boost the economy of El Paso using foreign investment.
The city has partnered with Civitas El Paso Regional Center LLC to establish a center through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program that offers foreign nationals the opportunity to obtain a permanent residency visa in exchange of investing their capital in a job-creating business or a new commercial enterprise in the United States.
"Essentially after they make their investment they obtain a temporary green card. Within two years of making their investment, if their investment generates the required number of jobs then they will have a permanent residency," said Gabriel Hidalgo, managing director for investments of Civitas El Paso Regional Center.
Foreign nationals who want to participate in this program must invest at least $500,000 in a business that within two years creates or preserves at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers.
Civitas El Paso Regional Center will work with the city to identify projects eligible for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program and that will create the necessary jobs to provide a strong economic development for El Paso, Hidalgo said.
El Paso City Manager Joyce Wilson said the program will infuse international capital into El Paso to help subsidize the cost of projects that locals may not be able to finance.
"For a community like El Paso and given the international market we have when a lot of immigration
has occurred from Mexico, you have a lot of investors with capital opportunities here to benefit the community," Wilson said during a City Council meeting last week.
City Rep. Cortney Niland said the Civitas El Paso Regional Center can help encourage foreign nationals to invest in El Paso.
"It makes sense that we will have a center here given our proximity to the border," she said.
The center still has to be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The application process takes about 10 months.
There are about 243 EB-5 centers in the U.S., and about 18 in Texas, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Civitas Capital Group has sponsored programs in Dallas that have resulted in nine EB-5 projects with almost $400 million of investment. An example is the redevelopment of a building in south Dallas into a boutique hotel, which has created more than 100 jobs, Hidalgo said.
He said the center will help to create the same type of economic development in El Paso.
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