Contractors explore opportunities with Hammond’s sister city in China
By Michell L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent January 13, 2013 9:32PM
Hammond businesses interested in partnering with citizens of Shahe, China via the EB5 program should contact Phil Taillon, Executive Director of Planning and Development, at 853-6508.
Updated: February 15, 2013 6:17AM
HAMMOND — Now that the city has a sister city in China, the administration would like to take that relationship to the next level via an available federal immigrant investor program.
A group of contractors known as the Hammond Contractors Group met with members of the Planning and Development Department on Friday afternoon at Lost Marsh Golf Course to hear about the delegation’s trip to Shahe as well as the business opportunities available. While there are always opportunities overseas, a different option for some might be to have Chinese investors invest money in business opportunities here via the EB5 program, a federal program approved by Congress in 1990.
The program, which President Barack Obama renewed for another three years, allows a foreign investor to put at least $1 million into either a new commercial enterprise, joint-venture, subsidiary or holding company that creates at least 10 full-time jobs, or to shore up a troubled business and preserve at least 10 full-time jobs, Hammond attorney Kevin Smith said. In return, the foreign investor — in this case, from Shahe — receives his or her green card.
The investment capital cannot be borrowed money, meaning he or she is personally liable for the investment, according the program’s rules. The investor also bears the cost of the application.
Haiwei Yuan, business liaison between Hammond and Shahe, explained to the group that for Chinese who have that kind of capital the program is a win-win.
“They always want to move to a different place,” Yuan said.
“They want a better environment with regard to pollution, they want to have more children (than the one allowed by its government) and they want access to better schools,” he said. “And since we don’t know the regulations and policies in the United States, we need a mentor.
“As long as there’s a booming industry, we want to move wealth.”
Since Chinese investors, as well as its government members, tend to base their business relationships on trust, having the sister-city relationship with Hammond goes a long way in laying the groundwork, said Planning and Development Executive Director Phil Taillon.
“The trust is there, so now, we take it to the next level,” he said.
Amex Nooter Business Development Manager Brian Harris asked if the opportunity was strictly limited to Hammond, to which Taillon said Mayor Tom McDermott would like to see anything out of any partnership have some sort of roots in the city. That said, Harris would be interested in a planned trip to Shahe to meet investors.
“It’s a little scary, but we have the city hooked in, so if one person gets hurt, the whole thing falls apart,” Harris said.