It is very rare in the EB-5 industry that a client has come full circle and has received both their immigration benefits (conditions removed on their conditional/permanent visa) as well as return of their EB-5 capital investment. In the spring of this year our seventh CMB EB-5 partnership reached this monumental milestone and we thought it would be a great idea to celebrate with our nearly 300 EB-5 Limited Partners and the Project Developers. I was excited to be tasked with organizing the event, as my previous twenty years prior to coming to CMB Regional Centers in 2009, I was the Vice President of our community’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and planning and organizing large events is in my soul. After weeks of planning, the Grand Celebration Dinner was hosted at the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. CMB Limited Partners and their guests from CMB Groups A, B, I, II, III, IV and V enjoyed the opportunity to meet one another, speak with the Developers in their partnerships and become reacquainted with CMB Regional Centers staff members.
It became clear early in the evening that this celebration was a WIN, WIN, WIN for all. The Developers thanked the Limited Partners and CMB for the opportunity to use the EB-5 funding to advance the redevelopment goals of the former military bases creating much needed jobs in communities that have been high unemployment areas for nearly twenty years. CMB thanked the EB-5 limited partners for choosing CMB during a time when the EB-5 immigration category was not well known and lacked a successful track record to rely upon. The EB-5 Limited Partners thanked the Developers for both the redevelopment work and jobs created at the project sites. They also thanked CMB Regional Centers for the investment performing as described and allowing them the ability to achieve their ultimate goal of a “green card” and repayment of their capital contribution to the partnership.
Mr. Mike Burrows the current Executive Director of the Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA) (the agency that oversees the redevelopment of the former Norton Air Force Base, located in San Bernardino, California) reported that all jobs lost when the military base was closed have now been recovered! He announced that on Friday evening the IVDA held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Hanger that has been relocated to the former Air Force Base and will be the home to the County’s Air Operations. This project is part of the CMB Group VI-A EB-5 partnership. During the presentation, Mr. Burrows presented Mr. Hogan with full repayment of the Group VI-A loan. This payment represents the final loan repayment of the $134,000,000 million in EB-5 loans that have assisted the IVDA and affiliated organizations to revitalize the base and the San Bernardino community, all payments were made on time or early.
Frank Myers the C.F.O. of the McClellan Business Park (MBP) also proudly announced that due to the improvements made to the former McClellan Air Force Base via the EB-5 capital the base has also recovered and now has more jobs located at the site than were lost when the base was closed. He thanked the CMB Limited Partners for believing in the redevelopment plan and taking the leap of faith to invest in a little known EB-5 program at the time. MBP is strategically located near Sacramento, California and is an important hub for commerce in the region.
One of the most heartfelt moments of the evening was listening to the clients share their story of why they desired to move to the United States and how their lives have changed. Often times the move was made for the benefit of their children or to have the economic freedom to start their own business. Many are quite successful and have risen to the top of their field, some employ many people themselves.
In addition to the Grand Celebration we recognized CMB Regional Center’s 20th Anniversary in the EB-5 industry (1997-2017). Whereas the first seven partnerships represented nearly 300 clients, today CMB Regional Centers have grown to 5,000 clients. Over 4,000 have received their I-526 petition approval for conditional residency and nearly 700 clients have received their I-829 petition approval for the removal of conditions and obtaining permanent residency. As of today every CMB project adjudicated by the USCIS has been approved. CMB has 170 projects with the aforementioned 5,000 Limited Partners. We are proud that the first seven CMB partnerships have reached this very special milestone of coming full circle and have received repayment of capital, which is the desired result by all EB-5 participants, yet sadly industry wide so few have obtained.
On the evening prior to our Grand Celebration we held a surprise 20th Anniversary dinner for our Founder and C.E.O. Mr. Patrick Hogan. Mr. Hogan has been a pioneer in the industry. He was the architect of many standard EB-5 business practices that exist in the industry today such as the loan model and reliance upon indirect and induced job creation. He has also been a strong advocate for EB-5 reform and the first to call for the establishment of a USCIS Integrity Fund (funded by Regional Centers), which allows the USCIS the necessary funding to perform project site visits and audits of Regional Centers. We are all very proud of Mr. Hogan and to be affiliated with such a great organization. He was truly surprised when some of the giants in the industry participated in a video wishing him a Happy 20th Anniversary. Of course we shared many photos of him traveling abroad, meeting with clients and many photos prior to the gray hair. It was a fun evening for all.
The CMB mantra provided by Mr. Hogan “If we take care of our clients everything else will fall into place and everyone will succeed. Our clients are the most important part of everything we do.” The evening was filled with this sentiment and one of the best compliments came from a client who said,
“At first I looked at the EB-5 investment as a business deal but over the years I have visited the project sites, seen the work that has been done, had the opportunity to get to know the staff and have seen my immigration dreams met. After the return of capital I thought I would never hear from you again but you have kept in contact and have now hosted this celebration event in our honor, CMB is more than a business deal, I truly feel like a member of the CMB family.”
We have continued to received many messages throughout the week thanking us for the event such as this one from our clients who received their citizenship two weeks ago:
“I wanted to take a opportunity to reach out and say a huge thank you to you and all the team that helped in organizing and running the event on Saturday we both were very humbled by the whole event, we expected to be treated as faceless number of group 5, and boy how wrong we were, from the get go we were made to feel very welcome it was as if all the team knew us, we left feeling like a part of a huge very friendly family, I wasn’t expecting to feel how personal this whole process was to you and your team, I also hadn’t considered that much the human factor effect on the investment side, San Bernardino for example is just an amazing accomplishment.”
Mr. Hogan’s mantra of taking care of the client is in the forefront of everything we do at CMB and our entire staff lives this. Recently we were all deeply offended when another regional center stated that “they were the largest consumer of EB-5 product in the industry”. Mr. Hogan made sure that every staff member knew that we are not dealing in “EB-5 product”. We are dealing with people and their families, making communities thrive again, and we must never lose the human connection.
The Grand Celebration was a great success; spending time with our clients and project developers was memorable. I am thankful for our staff that performed brilliantly to pull off a spectacular weekend event. We all look forward to hosting future celebrations with members of CMB partnerships that come full circle and realize their immigration pursuits and return of capital.
Senior Vice President of CMB Regional Centers
EB-5, I-829, Return of Capital Celebration Chairperson