USA Lifestyles Designated to Operate EB-5 Investment Program for Businesses in Franklin County and Town of Livermore Falls

RANGELEY, ME — On October 12, 2011, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approved USA Lifestyles, Inc. as a Regional Center within the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, known as EB-5.  The designated geographic area of the USA Lifestyles Regional Center includes Franklin County and Livermore Falls in Androscoggin County, collectively known as Greater Franklin County.

The  EB-5 Visa program provides a method for foreign nationals to obtain a  green card and permanent residency in the United States through  investment in US companies within a designated regional area.  To  qualify for an EB-5 visa individuals must invest $1,000,000.00 that  creates or preserves at least 10 jobs, however, this regional center is  in a designated rural area which allows a $500,000 minimum investment.

“The benefit of a EB-5 Regional Center is that an EB-5 investor’s investment must create 10 jobs directly or indirectly. This allows more opportunities for small businesses needing funding to qualify for EB-5 under this program. For instance, due to the nature of some businesses adding 10 jobs directly to their company may not be possible, but the funding may create additional jobs indirectly in the area. An example of indirect job creation would be when a lodging facility is built it may create 5 jobs on site, however with the increase in lodging in the area, more overall patrons will visit. This will create the need for more jobs in the restaurants and retail businesses that support the lodging facility.” said USA Lifestyles President and Saddleback General Manager, Christopher Farmer.

On November 23, 2010, USA Lifestyles Inc. made application to the Department of US Citizenship and Immigration Services for designation as a Regional Center covering Greater Franklin County. The Regional Center designation is the result of a collaborative private enterprise effort between Saddleback Mountain, Greater Franklin Development Corporation, and Otis Ventures.

USA Lifestyles Inc. will focus on offering EB 5 compliant capital investment opportunities in new commercial enterprises within their geographic scope in these economic categories;  Ski Lodges and Resorts, Testing Laboratories, Wood Products Manufacturing, Restaurants, Lessors of Non Residential buildings, Museums and Construction.

The start of this initiative began in 2008 with the recommendation of marketing strategist, Foster Chandler of Killington, VT. Saddleback then began looking at the success of Jay Peak Resort and the Vermont State EB-5 Regional Center. Christopher Farmer began to research the possibility of establishing a regional center in the Northern Franklin County area to create more quality private sector jobs at Saddleback Maine and other area businesses in a tough economic climate.

“Growing up in Franklin County, I watched hundreds of good quality manufacturing jobs disappear from the area, leaving the state for foreign lands,” noted USA Lifestyles President and Saddleback General Manager, Christopher Farmer.  “This is a unique opportunity to bring investment dollars back from those areas to Franklin County and create good paying long-term jobs. In my opinion, the Berry Family’s goal of preserving jobs and creating new quality jobs will now reach a new level with this EB-5 regional center.”

In 2009, the Greater Franklin Development Corp, established by local business owners in 1998 as an effort to strengthen the economic development in the greater Franklin County area, approved an initial grant to help defer the legal costs to begin the process of approval for an EB-5 regional center, and continued to strongly support the development of the project.

“We  are really excited about the positive economic opportunities that the  EB 5 Regional Center will offer to existing businesses and businesses  looking to locate in Franklin County and Livermore  Falls.  The prospect  of creating jobs in the greater Franklin  County region is limitless”,  says Alison Hagerstrom, Executive Director of Greater Franklin  Development Corp.

In the summer of 2010 Otis Ventures, seeing the potential for redevelopment of the James River Otis Mill, signed on to assist with the EB-5 Regional Center application by assuming some of the costs of the econometric studies and legal fees asssociated with establishing the regional center.

“The  EB-5 Regional Center will be a great opportunity for Otis Ventures to  attract investors and advance the revitalization of the Otis Mill and  the surrounding community…and most importantly, create jobs!” agreed  Mary Howes, Otis Ventures, LLC.

Senator Susan Collins and her staff have been assisting the business group by asking questions and getting answers from USCIS as well as other agencies during the approval process.

“This  is a great day for Franklin County, Livermore Falls, USA Lifestyles,  and for the State of Maine.  Western Maine is a place of extraordinary  beauty, strong communities, and a skilled and dedicated workforce.  As a  Regional Center, this area now will be able to attract investment not  only from Maine and the United States, but also from around the world.   With this investment will come new economic opportunities and, most  important, good jobs,” said Senator Susan Collins.

In late spring 2011, the 125th legislature passed LD-1 which directed the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) to collaborate with other agencies and businesses to make application for an EB-5 state regional center. When it was discovered that a group in Franklin County had already made application in November 2010, DECD chose rather than “reinventing the wheel” to put their support behind the initiative.  George Gervais, Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development explained,

“This  is a great opportunity being seized. We have a group in Franklin County  being the first to bring this new economic development tool to Maine, a  tool for creating jobs in Maine for Maine people that doesn’t use  taxpayer assistance.”

Saddleback Maine, one of New England’s finest family ski resorts, is located in the legendary Rangeley Lakes Region of the Western Mountains of Maine, and was recently named “Top Adventure Mountain”, by SKI Magazine. With a 2,000′ vertical drop, a 4120′ top elevation and 66 trails and glades, Saddleback offers New England’s best big mountain value and unspoiled, rustic beauty amidst the largest concentration of 4,000 foot peaks in Maine. Saddleback is committed to carefully crafting its growth with an environmental focus and support of community.