October 2012- Brian Su, founder and CEO of Illinois based Artisan Business Group, recently sat down with Aimee Rios of EB-5 Investment Report to discuss the challenges facing EB-5 investors, how he links Chinese investors with U.S. investment opportunities and why he thinks the EB-5 program is not a political hot topic.
Brian Su became involved with the EB-5 program 7 years ago when he founded Artisan Business Group to facilitate United States investment opportunities with a source of capital from China. He is also a strategic advisor to developers around the country and founded the EB-5 China Marketing and Field Support Center to help EB-5 regional centers have a better understanding of the Chinese market. He said, “When you are trying to raise capital oversees, it is a tremendous challenge, you do not know the legal system, you do not know how the market works, you do not know the culture. So we set up the center just trying to help out new regional centers so that they would have an opportunity to raise capital in China.”
During this election year the issue of job creation has been one of the hottest topics, but none of the parties have mentioned the EB-5 program and its job creating opportunities. Su blames Foreign Direct Investment. He said, “If you look at the EB-5 program in comparison to Foreign Direct Investment, EB-5 investment for the EB-5 program is like a little drop in a big ocean… FDI can create a lot [more] jobs than the EB-5 program, I think that’s one of the reason’s the EB-5 program didn’t get a lot of attention.”
But EB-5 is gaining the attention of smaller manufacturing businesses in America according to Su, who has witnessed this trend first hand. Last year, ABG helped a company in Vermont successfully recruit investors and raise capital and this year a lumber mill in Florida is also utilizing the EB-5 program for its project. He says that direct EB-5 is more suitable for these smaller labor intensive projects, whereas the EB-5 regional center pilot program is geared more toward mega-sized real estate developments like resorts, for example.
One of the biggest challenges Su said is facing investors is the uncertainty of the EB-5 regional center program. Although the regional center pilot program was just extended for 3 more years, investors lack the confidence a permanent program would provide. He said investors are frustrated with the slow process and lack of efficiency from the government agencies, which can give the program a bad reputation and sometimes send investors looking to put their capital in alternative markets.
Through their many seminars, conferences, workshops and events, the goal of ABG is to educate not only EB-5 stakeholders, but also the general public who often believe the EB-5 program is selling American citizenship to wealthy foreigners. Su said, “That is not true because overseas investors, they are taking the risk investing in our communities around the country to create jobs. So that is why we try to do the seminars to educate the public that there’s an alternative way to raise capital.”