EB-5

I think everyone in Vermont felt extreme disappointment when they heard the news of the SEC investigation of the Q Burke and Jay Peak owners. I know I did.

The EB-5 program was supposed to bring economic salvation to the Northeast Kingdom. Until I left VPR last year, I covered this story as a field reporter, beginning with the press conference at Jay Peak resort in 2012, where Bill Stenger mapped out the projects he said would create 10,000 jobs.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

Sen. Patrick Leahy said Friday that Congress must provide more oversight of funds raised through the federal EB-5 program, which allows foreign investors to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for visas to the U.S.

Mount Snow

While attention in the state has been directed toward the alleged EB-5 violations at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, another EB-5 project in southern Vermont has also hit a snag.

Clockwise from top left: Vermont Department of Financial Regulation; Alden Pellet/AP; Freeman/French/Freeman; Steve Legge/AP

The news on Thursday of major, alleged fraud in the Northeast Kingdom was a punch in the gut for Vermonters who had nurtured dreams of economic revitalization in the area. But the story is pretty complicated. If you’re coming to it cold, here’s what you need to know.

The man at the center of a massive alleged fraud in the Northeast Kingdom has been a major donor to the Vermont Democratic Party.

Jeb Wallace-Brodeur for VPR

A private venture that was supposed to spark an economic renaissance in northern Vermont has turned into what state and federal authorities are calling a “Ponzi-like” fraud on foreign investors, who have allegedly been duped out of tens of millions of dollars by the owner of Jay Peak. 

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

The Securities and Exchange Commission says that two Northeast Kingdom developers and their companies have defrauded foreign investors in the federal EB-5 program.

Federal and state authorities raided the Jay Peak and Q Burke resorts Wednesday.

Charlotte Albright / VPR file

We tackle two big stories in Vermont news in today's program.

Hilary Niles for VPR

State officials today will celebrate a Northeast Kingdom airport’s new and improved runway — a project several years and many million dollars in the making. Now, private developers are on the hook to deliver other improvements. And there’s some concern about delays in the developer’s timetable.

Freeman/French/Freeman

Northeast Kingdom developer Bill Stenger has unveiled the design for a new airport terminal to be built at the state airport in Coventry.

Charlotte Albright / VPR file

There’s a hiring spree going on in the ski resort town of Burke in the Northeast Kingdom. A new hotel and conference center due to open in December will need as many as 200 workers. The rush is on to find them as construction moves ahead.

file/Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

A piece of the $600 million economic redevelopment plan underway in the Northeast Kingdom is back on track. Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation has granted conditional approval that allows the ski resort to seek foreign investment for a project already under development in Burke.

The director of the EB-5 Vermont Regional Center has resigned to take a job overseeing an EB-5 program at Mount Snow, raising concerns from Gov. Peter Shumlin about the relationship between the now-former state employee and the business operations he was supposed to oversee.

Charlotte Albright / VPR

Construction will begin in Newport on May 14 for a biotechnology research and manufacturing center that will be one of the first of its kind in the nation.

Herb Swanson / swanpix.com

The state of Vermont is looking more closely at development projects financed with EB-5 money. That's the federal program that grants visas in exchange for foreign investments in the United States.

Orleans County, often described as one of the poorest in the state, is now leading the state in job creation.

That’s according to data supplied to the state legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee by the Department of Labor. 

Bill Stenger, president of Jay Peak Resort, attributes the improvement partly to its expansion.

Part of an ambitious revitalization plan for the Northeast Kingdom appears to have at least  temporarily de-railed.

The shopping center that houses a grocery store and pharmacy in downtown Newport was supposed to make way for a $100 million hotel and convention center proposed by Jay Peak Resort co-owner Bill Stenger. But the property owner, real estate developer Tony Pomerleau, has told a local newspaper that the deal has fallen through because he had not yet received money from Stenger, and that the “current tenants will stay.”

Mount Snow / AP

Mount Snow has joined the growing list of Vermont businesses working to attract foreign capital with the prospect of permanent U.S. residency. The West Dover resort hopes to raise $52 million overseas through the EB-5 visa program.

Investors and their families will receive permanent green cards if the projects they help finance create enough jobs.

Senator Patrick Leahy’s plan to strengthen an investment visa program has been added to the massive immigration reform bill before the U.S. Senate Judiciary committee.

The committee is in the process of reviewing hundreds of amendments to the bill. Leahy serves as the chairman of the panel.

The EB-5 visa program grants green cards to foreign businesspeople and their families in exchange for a $500,000 investment in a sanctioned economic development project.

As part of the agreement, it must also create at least ten new jobs.

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