Larsen Helps Lead Passage of Important Job-Creation Bill for Northwest Washington

Sep 13, 2012 Issues: Jobs Labor and the Economy

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today helped lead passage of a S. 3245, a bill that will spur investment and job creation in Northwest Washington. The bill includes a three-year reauthorization of the immigrant investor EB-5 program, which Larsen has championed in the House of Representatives. Larsen introduced similar legislation to permanently reauthorize the program last year.

“I worked hard to keep these investment dollars flowing into the United States because I have seen firsthand how hundreds of people in Northwest Washington have gone back to work thanks to this program,” Larsen said.

The bill passed today has already passed the Senate and now goes to President Obama for signing into law.

Larsen has worked closely with EB-5 Regional Centers in Whatcom and Snohomish counties to bring investments and jobs to Northwest Washington. The Whatcom Opportunities Regional Center has used the program to generate $34 million in investment to create more than 800 good local jobs. Everett’s PathAmerica is using EB-5 financing to build an indoor farmer’s market and a college building in Everett.

“The EB-5 program is a real three-fer,” Larsen added. “It’s a win for American workers, who benefit from thousands of new jobs. It’s a win for the taxpayer, because it does not add one penny to the national deficit. And it’s a win for the United States, because it helps us compete on a global scale.”

The EB-5 program allows qualified foreign investors who make major investments in the United States that create or save at least ten full-time jobs to seek visas. The program, first established in 1990, has been continued as a short-term pilot program and had been slated to expire at the end of this month.

Local leaders using the EB-5 program to create jobs hailed Larsen’s leadership on the issue.

“The Association to Invest in the USA and the Whatcom Opportunities Regional Center applaud the leadership of Representative Rick Larsen in helping to achieve a three year reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center Pilot program,” said David Andersson, president of both the Association to Invest in the USA and the Whatcom Opportunities Regional Center. “This important economic development Program has resulted in $34 million of much needed foreign direct investment into Whatcom County. "

“Congressmen Rick Larsen’s effort to extend the EB-5 program is invaluable to our national and local economy,” said Lobsang Dargey, president of PathAmerica. “With his help and the help of Senator Maria Cantwell, PathAmerica is developing a $53 million project in Everett which will include a 120 hotel rooms, 220 upscale apartments and a 50,000 square foot year around indoor farmers market with a community kitchen. This project will create over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs within the next two years. PathAmerica is also planning to invest in other areas such as the aerospace sector, education and multifamily housing.”

Larsen spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives Tuesday, urging his colleagues to pass the bill. His full statement is below.

Larsen Urges House to Pass Bill That Will Create Jobs in Northwest Washington
September 11, 2012

Mr. Chair, I rise today in support of S. 3245, which would, in part, reauthorize the EB-5 visa program for three years. This EB-5 program will create good American jobs.

Last year I worked with Senator Leahy to write H.R. 2972, the Creating American Jobs Through Foreign Capital Act. That legislation would have reauthorized the EB-5 program permanently.

While the bill before us today extends the program for only three years, it is still an important job creator that we must pass.

The program allows qualified foreign investors who invest in the U.S. and create or save at least 10 full-time American jobs, to seek U.S. visas. This program brings overseas capital to the U.S. to create jobs for people in my District and across America.

There are two projects in Everett, Washington, currently being financed through the EB-5 program. One is a college building that if this bill is not passed, our area will lose this building and the opportunities associated with it. The second investment is one for building and housing a regional farmers market, a project that has been in the works and is almost done. This project will help local farmers regionally and create jobs. If this bill is not passed, this project, which is set to be finished soon, will not be completed and all finance and investments will be lost.

In another part of my district, in Whatcom County, the local EB-5 center has leveraged more than $34 million from immigrant investors to create more than 800 good local jobs.

The EB-5 program is a real three-fer. It’s a win for American workers, who benefit from thousands of new jobs. It’s a win for the taxpayer, because it does not add one penny to the national deficit. And third it helps the U.S. compete on a global scale. The U.S. EB-5 visa program is one of more than 20 similar programs run by other important growing economies like Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

Our economy cannot afford to do without these investments or these jobs. If we don’t keep this road open for foreign investment into the U.S., that investment will choose another country’s road. Congress must extend the EB-5 program so that we continue creating new jobs at a time that we need them most.