Michigan will be only the second state in the country to run a statewide center meant to encourage investment from immigrants.
The center will provide visas for people who invest at least $1 million in the state and create at least ten jobs. The required investment goes down to $500,000 if it is made in a rural community or one with high unemployment.
This is one piece of Gov. Rick Snyder’s strategy to attract more immigrants to Michigan. His administration expects the center to bring in at least $30 million and create 600 new jobs every year.
“This is an existing program that Michigan has not taken very good advantage of,” said Joe Borgstrom, who will serve as the center’s director. “And so, what this is going to result in is more money being pumped into Michigan and more new jobs being created for Michiganders; more and better new jobs.”
Borgstrom says the center plans to partner with colleges and universities to keep young talent in the state.
“These great universities that we have already have foreign national students here,” he said. “We’re basically training the best in the world and we’re sending them off to be our competition. Part of our goal in this is we want to talk to those students and get them and their families to come and stay here so that we’re not training our competition, we’re training our best workforce.”
The center will operate under a federal visa program called EB-5. The program has come under attack in the past for funding several failed projects. Some critics also say it essentially puts visas up for sale for immigrants who can afford them.
State officials say the new EB-5 center could close on its first project by the end of the year.