The mastermind of a $500 million economic development plan has just returned from Korea optimistic about finding enough foreign investors to bring new prosperity to the Northeast Kingdom.
Jay Peak Resort co-owner Bill Stenger is tapping into a federal program call EB5 that grants visas to qualified foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in projects that create American jobs. He’s bringing AnC Bio, a Korean bio-tech company, to Newport. The plan also includes redeveloping Newport’s downtown and marina, expanding the state airport at Coventry, and creating new lodging and other amenities at Jay Peak Resort and Burke Mountain Ski areas.
Stenger says a recent six-day trip to Korea was an important step forward.
"I spent six business days in Seoul meeting with AnC bio leadership, meeting with attorneys from Seoul immigration community," Stenger said. "I met and identified about a hundred investors that are interested in our program, had a very, very productive trip and (am) glad to be home."
Stenger says China, where he will travel after the new year, offers as many as 7,000 prospective EB5 participants, though there is a cap on how many may participate each year. He will also scour India and several South and Central American nations for would-be wealthy immigrants who see Vermont as a safe place to put their money, and perhaps educate their college-age children.
The challenge now, Stenger says, is a good problem to have.
"I think the thing that we have to gear up for is how do we administratively welcome a thousand investors in the next eighteen months," he said.
And he’s talking about more than paperwork. About 95 of propsective investors, he said, visit Jay Peak resort before signing on the dotted line.