EB5 Investors Magazine Volume 5, Issue 2 - Page 95

TOP BUSINESS PLAN WRITERS that have raised, or are raising, over $3.5 billion in EB-5 capital in a variety of industries. Cohen’s prior background includes strategic development work for large public companies, manufacturing companies and start-ups. Since 2010, his firm’s team has grown to include MBAs and PhD economists, who have together contributed to the company’s reputation in the industry. Cohen regularly speaks at and participates in EB-5 events and conferences. PHIL COHEN President Strategic Element Inc. P hil Cohen is the president of Strategic Element Inc, and has been offering professional services in the EB-5 industry since 2010. Strategic Element offers three critical EB-5 services: business plans, economic impact reports and feasibility studies. Strategic Element also published The EB-5 Definitive Guide, a comprehensive publication for EB-5 beginners. Strategic Element has participated in EB-5 deals WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? When I first became aware of EB-5 in 2010, I saw a perfect fit for my skill set, namely strategic development and planning. From an altruistic perspective, I saw an opportunity to become a part of an industry that offered the further benefit of helping to make the American dream a reality for so many people, while at the same time facilitating investments into businesses that would both contribute to the growth of the American economy and the creation of jobs. I can think of few things that could be more rewarding than that as a career choice. marketing and investment companies in the United States and China before entering the EB-5 field. Lazicki runs the LucidText weblog, providing EB-5 news and information to readers around the world, and serves on the Editorial Committee for IIUSA. Her articles and presentations include the chapter on business plans in Immigration Options for Investors & Entrepreneurs, 3rd Ed. published by AILA. WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE EB-5 INDUSTRY? SUZANNE LAZICKI Business Writer & Consultant Lucid Professional Writing S uzanne Lazicki is a business writer and consultant specializing in the EB-5 program. In eight years since founding Lucid Professional Writing, Lazicki has written over 150 business plans for regional center projects, 88 direct EB-5 business plans and a variety of plans and market reports for non-immigrant investments. She holds degrees in English and Business Administration, and worked for real estate, In recent years, I’ve seen EB-5 projects become larger and less diverse. In 2009, there were about 70 regional centers and 1,000 EB-5 investments in a year. EB-5 projects tended to be small and represented a variety of industries. Today, there are over 14,000 annual EB-5 investments, of which about 80 percent funds construction and 80 percent was raised by the top 10 percent of regional centers. Processing times, regulation and competition have increased the cost of EB-5 capital and created barriers to entry. At the same time, direct EB-5 has grown in popularity with small business and investors. ARE YOU SEEING ANY SIGNS THAT THE COMMUNITY IS STARTING TO ADJUST TO POSSIBLE TEA CHANGES? Absolutely. We have noted significant growth in investor demand for such p roje c ts in resp o nse to p ro p ose d legislative changes. Because of shifting demand, we see more of our clients’ projects focused on these areas. The reform I most want to see is dependents removed from the 10,000 visas available annually. This alone would help solve many of the industry’s major challenges. More generally, definitive resolutions to the legislative issues under discussion for so long would be nice. More certainty for developers and investors would allow the industry to accomplish its intent: create jobs and grow the U.S. economy. ARE YOU SEEING ANY SIGNS THAT THE COMMUNITY IS STARTING TO ADJUST TO POSSIBLE TEA CHANGES? In my observation, projects in rural and distressed urban areas are finding it increasingly difficult to use EB-5. The current TEA system does not incentivize them, and the industry has aggressively negotiated to weaken TEA reform in proposed legislation. But even with effective incentives, projects in rural and distressed urban areas struggle to use EB-5. Ventures that truly need EB-5 capital can’t afford to wait two years for petition processing. If congress wishes to promote projects in under-capitalized areas, it must define robust incentives and also give USCIS the resources to provide timely processing. EB5INVESTORS.COM 94