5th Annual Invest in America Summit and Exhibition Announced

October 26th, 2014

5th annual Invest in America 2015 Summit and Exhibition, which is taking place on March 13th to 15th, 2015 in Shanghai at the Jing’An Shangri-la Hotel. In response to overwhelming demand the Summit will be traveling this year, with events in Shenzhen on March 18th, 2015 and in Beijing on March 21st, 2015.

The Invest in America Summit and Exhibition is the largest annual American investment conference and trade show held in China and focuses exclusively on the EB-5 investment program. Started in 2011, the Summit has seen its attendance rise dramatically each year. Attendees include over 20,000 of China’s premiere business executives, private investors, and more than 400 emigration agents who come from all across China and around world. The Summit, with over 60 exhibition booths and 30 breakout sessions, is designed for and welcomes the participation of regional centers, U.S. investment projects, real estate developers and brokerage firms, financial services, law firms, colleges and training institutions and other business professionals.

This year, along with over 100 returning emigration agents, several major Chinese Exit and Entry Services Associations will be joining for the first time. In addition, Exhibitors who participate in the three-day Summit in Shanghai will have the opportunity to participate in the Shenzhen-Beijing roadshows as well. These roadshows are certain to create scores of new business opportunities for Exhibitors.

The Invest in America 2015 Summit and Exhibition’s goal is to enable Chinese business executives and investors to learn more about investment and business opportunities in the United States. The Event will provide a unique platform for many renowned guest speakers to share their expertise and knowledge on the current and projected business and investment environment in the United States. As a participant, sponsor and/or speaker at this prestigious event your company will gain a heightened professional profile and instant recognition from many organizations that support this Summit. With a five star exhibition environment, complete service functions, profound customer resources, the Summit will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase various business and investment opportunities to a sophisticated Chinese audience. You don’t want to miss this exceptional business opportunity!

We sincerely invite you and your clients to join the Summit to pursue business and investment from China. For more information please contact Ms. Jenny Liang by phone 607-379-9466 or by email at info.InvestAmericaSummit@gmail.com, or log on www.top-eb5.com for event registration and updates.

ELIS I526 Update!

July 22nd, 2014

Dear Stakeholder,

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) invites you to participate in a stakeholder webinar on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. (Eastern) to learn more about the usability and functionality of the new USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS) Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, and the document library.

During this webinar, USCIS will demonstrate this functionality and provide tips on using USCIS ELIS features.

The USCIS ELIS Form I-526 allows customers to:
Submit their petition electronically,
Upload evidence, and
Track case status in real-time.

The USCIS ELIS Document Library allows regional centers to provide immigrant investors in new commercial enterprises with electronic copies of their investment-related documents, including:
Transactional, and
Offering documents.

Form I-526 petitioners can:
Access electronic copies of documents pertaining to their investment,
Attest the documents are true and accurate copies, and
Supplement their electronic or paper-based Form I-526 petition with documents stored in the document library.

To Register for This Session:
The webinar is open to the public, but is limited to the first 100 registrants.

To register:
Email the Public Engagement Division at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov by July 28.
Reference “Document Library” in the subject line.
Provide your full name.
Provide the name of your organization, if applicable.

Once we process your registration, you will receive a confirmation email with additional instructions on how to participate in the webinar.

If you have any questions regarding the registration process, or if you have not received a confirmation email within two business days, please email us at Public.Engagement@uscis.dhs.gov.

We look forward to engaging with you!

2014 EB-5 Business and Investment Exploration Trade Mission announced

July 17th, 2014

Acquiring project funding can be a challenge, especially for new kids on the block. This is where we can help! The 2014 EB-5 Business and Investment Exploration Delegation organized by Artisan Business Group will be traveling to the cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou in Southern China to meet with our established business partners in the region October 5-12, 2014. The cornerstones of our past successes have always been thorough market research, almost 2 decades of business experience with the Chinese, and creating win-win scenarios with our business liaisons by aligning actions with values. Investing in a trade-mission trip gives one high-odds of finding a compatible investment and business partners while also providing a unique opportunity to experience Eastern culture from the comfort of the luxurious hotels we will be residing in while abroad. Our Trade Missions to China will continue to provide American businesses new access and comprehensive insight into the dynamic Chinese market – including its scale, diversity and potential. At the Artisan Business Group we promise expertise in identifying and setting appointments with business partners (including EB-5 emigration agents) that will meet your prospect criteria. We help our clients with developing insight into China’s business culture and social etiquette. We do this to better avoid misunderstandings that could scuttle deals and harm working relationships. Attending a Trade Mission with us also carries the benefits of pre-mission assessment of the Chinese market, in-country briefings, travel logistics, group transportation, interpreters, day-by-day itinerary, and hotel accommodations. For more information about our Explore Chinese Market now! – Join our China Trade Missions, please email us at artisanbusiness@gmail.com or call 217-899-6661 for details. Small group, sign up early! Discount rate for Wright Johnson clients.


July 9th, 2014

You can support entrepreneurs’ apps, gadgets, clothing creations, restaurants — you name it — through the exploding phenomenon of “crowdfunding.” But what can you show for your investment? A drawer full of T-shirts, tote bags and other tokens of appreciation.

Not the kind of rewards most serious investors are looking for.

For wealthy funders — so-called “accredited investors” — some crowdfunding platforms offer an ownership piece of the startup venture they are funding. If the concept becomes the next big thing rather than the next big flop, they could reap a giant return.

Increasingly, those wealthy crowdfunders are turning to a tried-and-true investment class they can see, feel and understand: real estate.

Before crowdfunding platforms came along, only a small fraction of the nine million U.S. accredited investors — those with a net worth of at least $1 million or $200,000 in annual income — had participated in private-investment opportunities, said Joanna Schwartz, CEO of EarlyShares.com, a Miami crowdfunding platform aimed at those very investors. Typically, she said, “they didn’t have access to them unless they knew someone [in the deal], and this is especially true in real estate. This really is about giving direct access to investors in ways they never had before.”

Crowdfunding started with wildly popular donation-based websites such as Kickstarter, where supporters can fund enterprises ranging from a company that makes mermaid outfits to a film about Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti. In the past few years, crowdfunding has become increasingly popular for not-for-profit causes and micro-lending.

Equity-based crowdfunding is more complex — and more controversial.

Though the 2012 federal JOBS Act legalized crowdfunding as a means to raise funds for startups and other ventures, the rules governing such transactions have been released in waves. In September 2013, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission modified securities rules to allow advertising of such deals, which opened the door to crowdfunding platforms being used by more-sophisticated, accredited investors. The final rules governing ordinary investors are expected later this year, but an SEC spokesperson declined comment.

EarlyShares, founded in 2011, and dozens of other companies around the country took aim at accredited investors. By the end of last year, the company had launched its first online fund-raising campaign for the Miami-based peer-to-peer boating company Boatsetter, which has already has raised more than $1 million on the platform and is seeking $2.25 million. A dozen more campaigns are underway for technology, film and entertainment companies and other firms around the country.

And now, real estate deals.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that dozens of real-estate crowdfunding sites have popped up in the past year, including Fundrise and Realty Mogul. Already, these companies have raised more than $135 million in debt and equity for real-estate deals, according to The Journal’s calculations. While that is tiny compared to the more than $700 billion market value of publicly traded real-estate investment trusts, it is the fastest-growing category in the crowdfunding arena, according to Crowdnetic, a firm that tracks crowdfunding data.

That doesn’t surprise Schwartz. “Where else can investors go with a few clicks and get a potentially 7 or 9 percent return on a project that they understand? We’re not saying its riskless — nothing is riskless — but they get it,” said Schwartz, who has a background in commercial real estate finance as well as technology and e-commerce. “Real estate is intuitively understood in a much different way than startup companies are. Investors are chasing yield.”

What will probably prime the pump for real-estate campaigns on EarlyShares is its recent exclusive marketing partnership with Property.com. That’s one of the websites run by Miami-based eRealEstate Holdings, which also runs Condo.com, Houses.com and Location.com. With more than 5 million listings combined, they serve as a national real-estate marketplace for listing, searching, buying, selling and renting single-family homes, condos and commercial property.

“We think we can rapidly scale the crowdfunding platform on [Property.com],” said Richard Swerdlow, CEO of eRealEstate Holdings. Property.com now has 500,000 commercial listings and 150,000 monthly visitors.

Swerdlow’s company is shifting Property.com from its current mission as a search site to a one-stop shop for commercial real estate; the partnership with EarlyShares offers a service it wants to feature. Once the platforms are fully integrated later this summer, visitors will see a prominent “Invest” tab, where they can view and potentially participate in crowdfunding-powered real estate deals on the EarlyShares platform.

“We see [crowdfunded real estate development] as a growing market that is only going to get bigger,” said Swerdlow. “We also think there is a big opportunity in Latin America.”

Jay Massirman, a Miami real estate developer and investor in multifamily projects, is testing crowdfunding for an Orlando project, but admits he doesn’t know quite what to expect. “I’ve been very curious about how it will all work,” said Massirman of Rivergate Companies, who has been in real estate for almost 30 years.

Since he offered investment opportunities in an Orlando multifamily apartment community about a month ago on EarlyShares, he has had interest from 50 to 75 qualified investors. He also held a webinar session through EarlyShares to present the project and answer questions. He is trying to raise $2.7 million, with an investor minimum of $100,000.

“It’s bringing a new access point for capital,” said Massirman, who has fielded investor interest from surgeons from Texas, high net worth investors from the Midwest and busy businesspeople from both coasts. “Now with the advent of crowdfunding, you can log on to these sites and find sponsors like myself who have a track record, expertise. … It’s attracting yield-minded people who are looking for vetted investments.”

Atlas Real Estate Partners in New York is also placing a bet on crowdfunding as it develops a 13,353-square-foot mixed-use building in Miami’s Wynwood arts district. The company is using Washington-based Fundrise for its effort. Atlas managing principal Arvind Chary said this is the third deal Atlas has placed on crowdfunding sites, though it is its first Miami property and its first time using Fundrise.

“Crowdfunding is a creative approach to fund-raising, and Wynwood is a very creative area,” said Chary. “It lines up very well with our product.”

Whether crowdfunding platforms become the go-to dealmakers of the future is yet to be seen. New methods for doing business often come with a learning curve — much like the advent of online stock trading in the 1990s, said EarlyShares’ Schwartz.

“If you look back at online stock trading 20 years ago, all of the same kind of early adopter concerns people raised are the same here,” she said. “Will there be fraud? Will people know how do to it? Will they adopt it?’

Still, she expects the time-saving and financial advantages eventually will prevail. “Going direct, there are a lot of fees we are saving for both sides here.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/07/06/4221997/developers-turn-to-crowdfunding.html#storylink=cpy

USCIS Posts updated processing times

July 9th, 2014

The new processing times are

I924….. 5.4 months
I526….. 13.2 months
I829….. 8.7 months

Kevin Wright Principal of Wright Johnson Presents at Third Annual Southern California EB-5 Conference

July 9th, 2014

This unprecedented conference will feature a broad range of the most knowledgeable stakeholders in the EB-5 industry. The event will feature U.S. Congressmen Bob Goodlatte and Darrell Issa as keynote speakers. Kevin Wright will present with CanAM’s Tom Rosenfeld, Wailian’s Linda Ha, John Tishler of Shepard Mullin, and moderated by Elsie Arias of Stone & Grzegorek on the topic of “Does my project work for EB-5?”

The conference will be heald at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort in Newport Beach, CA on July 21, 2014 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

Click here for more information

BEA to release a new version of RIMS in 2015

July 3rd, 2014

The following is from the BEA regarding the release of RIMS in 2015….

The Bureau of Economic Analysis plans to release in 2015 a modified economic model to replace the original Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II). Cost savings will be realized because the modified model will be updated less frequently.

Much like RIMS II, the modified model will produce regional “multipliers” that can be used in economic impact studies to estimate the total economic impact of a project on a region.
However, the modified model will be updated with new input-output (I-O) data only for benchmark years. That is — years ending in two and seven. The modified model will become available to customers in 2015 and incorporate 2007 benchmark I-O data and 2012 regional economic data.

Last year, as a result of budget sequestration and reduced funding levels, BEA discontinued updates to RIMS II. Orders for RIMS II multipliers, however, have continued to be accepted because the cost of fulfilling these orders is covered by a nominal processing fee.

After investigating ways to continue to meet the analytical needs of our customers but do so at a lower cost to BEA, the bureau decided to make a modified economic model available. Until the modified model is available in 2015, customers may continue to buy RIMS II multipliers.

Developers Revive Condo-Hotel Concept

July 3rd, 2014

Developers revive condo-hotel concept
By: Bloomberg News July 2, 2014 3:48 pm 0

Rainer Viete, who visits Florida from Venezuela about once a month, said he’s buying an apartment at the Hyde Resort & Residences hotel-condo project near Miami so he can order a meal or rent out his apartment when he wants.
“I love the amenities the building will have — a restaurant that can provide room service, a concierge, maintenance, a person that can clean your place, valet parking,” said Viete, 25, who works for his family’s real estate company in Caracas. The $250 million project, scheduled to break ground in August, is already 85 percent sold.
Developers across the U.S. are reviving a concept that collapsed with the real estate crash in 2008: combining condos and hotels. In cities including Miami, New York and Los Angeles, a rebounding hospitality market is joining with rising demand for luxury homes, spurring developers to construct new full-service hotels and ask premium prices for residential units associated with a high-end brand.
“One plus one makes three,” said hotelier Ian Schrager, who is developing Miami Beach’s Edition, a luxury lodging-and-residential tower with Marriott International Inc., and a similar project on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with Witkoff Group. “When you add condos to a hotel, the sum of the parts is more than the value of each individual component alone. They complement each other.”
Beverly Hills
Also in Miami, Richard LeFrak, the billionaire chief executive officer of New York-based LeFrak Organization Inc., is developing 1Hotel & Homes South Beach with investor Barry Sternlicht. Demand has been so strong that LeFrak is considering another hotel with condos in Los Angeles, he said in an interview.
In nearby Beverly Hills, developer Beny Alagem is planning two Waldorf Astoria condominium towers, to be built after a luxury hotel is constructed adjacent to the Beverly Hilton. In Santa Monica, the city is evaluating a redevelopment plan under which a 16-story residential tower would be added to the existing Fairmont Miramar Hotel.
“You are seeing more and more condos that are associated with a hotel brand,” said LeFrak. Residents need only “make one phone call. ‘Change the linens, put food in my fridge, get my car ready.’ They don’t have to bother with organizing a lot of things. It’s a big draw.”
Steve Nagelberg, a 60-year-old orthopedic surgeon, said such amenities and a high-end brand name attracted him to the Ritz-Carlton Residences in downtown Los Angeles. He and his wife bought a 4,100-square-foot, three-bedroom unit with panoramic views in early 2012. The project was conceived before the current development wave as part of Anschutz Entertainment Group’s 4 million-square-foot L.A. Live entertainment complex.
Parking cash
“No matter how wealthy you are, you are always considering where to park your cash,” Nagelberg said in a telephone interview. “But when I saw the Ritz-Carlton name, I thought, you can depend on this. I knew this type of company would be here not just a year from now, but 20 years from now.”
For developers, adding condos to a hotel project can attract financing that may not otherwise be available, said Bruce Ford, senior vice president and director of business development at Lodging Econometrics Inc., a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based consulting firm.
“Whenever you do mixed-use, different developers are awarded different phases with different time horizons,” Ford said in a telephone interview. “That provides for different types of income with different returns. That can help attract different types of investors, while it also diversifies your revenue stream.”
Lodging comeback
The U.S. hotel industry has recovered since the financial and property-market meltdown. Room rates in the first five months of this year reached a record, according to Jan Freitag, senior vice president at research firm STR Inc. Through May, the average price for a hotel stay nationwide jumped to $113.58 a night, up 4.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the Hendersonville, Tennessee-based company.
Even with rising demand, few new hotels — particularly full-service ones with restaurants, bars and other amenities — have been built because construction financing has been difficult to obtain, Ford said. In the two highest lodging segments, 45 hotels were under construction as of December, compared with 130 at the end of 2007, according to STR.
“It’s still hard to finance a pure hotel play,” Ford said. In big cities, “it’s just very expensive to build. So until the hotel is completed and returns money, you can sell condos and finance the hospitality component. The hotel component in turn will provide you with long-term cash flow.”
Different structures
Condo developments with a hotel can be structured in several ways. In some cases, residences may be connected to the lodging segment only so that owners can take advantage of the hotel’s amenities and benefit from the brand’s prestige. That tends to put a premium on unit prices.
In other developments, known as condo-hotels, a portion of the condos are made available to the hotel when owners aren’t using them, producing revenue for residents.
During the last recession, some buyers of condo-hotel projects incorrectly assumed unlimited property-value appreciation and lodging demand that would supply lucrative returns. During the financial-market meltdown, many projects faltered, said Jim Butler, chairman of the global hospitality group at Los Angeles-based law firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP.
Stalled projects
Casualties included SB Hotel Associates’ Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The project stalled, and some residential buyers sued after Donald Trump pulled out in 2009. In Chicago, the Shangri-La hotel-condo development came to a halt in 2008 after reaching the 28th floor, and the property’s skeleton was unfinished until New York-based Related Cos. resumed construction in 2012.
“Residential and hotel are two very different and separate businesses,” said Neil Shah, president of Hersha Hospitality Trust, a real estate investment trust that owns hotels including the Rittenhouse in Philadelphia. “The differences require extra caution and expertise. In great times you can leverage them together, but the risk is not just financial but also operationally very significant.”
While financing of condo purchases in hotel projects may be less risky than during the last housing boom, other risks remain, including the potential for overbuilding, according to Butler, the hospitality attorney.
No restraint
“Developers will build whenever they can,” he said. “If construction financing comes in within months, there will be an explosion of new projects. That is what we’ve done for 100 years. The only discipline to be had is from the financing side. Developers won’t show any restraint.”
In Miami, Related Group of Florida has four projects under way that include a condo-hotel component, which will make some of the units available for hotel use when vacant. Much of the buyer demand is coming from South American investors, according to CEO Jorge Perez.
Perez, who had to restructure more than $1.5 billion in debt on mostly vacant Florida condos in 2010, is looking to protect himself from potential future downturns by requiring at least 50 percent equity from buyers.
Beachwalk Miami
The $150 million Beachwalk hotel-residential project in Hallandale Beach, Florida, which Perez expects to be completed in 2015, has 300 residential units. Eighty-four of them are purely for condo use, and the rest will be made available to the hotel when residents aren’t occupying them. The units sold out in two months, with an average price of $500,000, according to Perez.
“The money that is coming in from buyers from Latin America and Europe is unprecedented today,” he said in a telephone interview. “When we talked to some of these potential buyers, a lot of them said they were investors. But they also wanted to be able to enjoy their condos and at the same time maximize their income. That’s why we are creating a hybrid product.”
Viete, the Venezuelan buyer at the Hyde Resort — a Related development with Miami-based Fortune International Group — said the ease of renting out his condo was another reason he was attracted to the project. He also liked the property’s Hyde brand, by luxury entertainment company SBE.
“With that kind of name on top of a great project, you will have many interested people in the future if you want to sell,” he said.
That type of thinking is what makes condo and hotel properties so attractive for real estate investors, LeFrak said.
“If there is a high-end hotel brand associated with the condos, then people’s expectations about the quality of service and reliability are elevated,” he said. “The brand has some clout. And that in turn creates a premium and additional value for the developer.”

Read more: http://finance-commerce.com/2014/07/developers-revive-condo-hotel-concept/#ixzz36PLYqzfb

EB5 Workshop

June 24th, 2014

EB-5 workshop July 10th in Newark, NJ will provide a rare networking opportunity for EB-5 projects and regional centers professionals. The one-day workshop on July 10th in NYC/NJ will provide attendees an opportunity to meet and network with highly experienced emigration agents from China. Those in attendance will include Westlead Capital Group, Wailian Overseas Consulting Group, Join Group and China International Overseas Company.

Register today at http://nyeb5.eventbrite.com/.

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Workshop in NYC/NJ July 10

June 2nd, 2014

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Process Practical Workshop (NYC/NJ) is a one-day workshop presented by Artisan Business Group July 10, 2014 for new and experienced EB-5 regional center executives and project developers only. The goal is simple: to get your project funded! Everything you learn here is about raising EB-5 capital in the ever-changing markets. Venue in NYC/NJ area will be notified to attendees only. Clients of Wright Johnson will receive 20% off discount. Registration at http://www.EB5NewsBlog.org

The Accelerated EB-5 Capital Raising Process Practical W…
July 10, 2014 New York City Area(Newalk Airport Hotel) Guest Speakers: Jeff Carr, EconomistClem Turner, Securities Attorney Venue to be an…
View on nyeb5.eventbrite.com