Global Business Club discusses foreign investment, new job creation in Michigan through EB-5 visa program

Publish Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Attracting international investors to Michigan through the EB-5 foreign investor visa
program would bolster the economy, said Gary J. McRay, keynote speaker at the April 22
meeting of the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan.

McRay, President of Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C., spoke about the special class
of visa for international investors. The EB-5 visa encourages investing by granting a
conditional green card to immigrants who invest $1 million in a commercial enterprise
that creates a new business, restructures or expands a current business and creates ten
jobs per $500 thousand.

The EB-5 program becomes more desirable if local business people or local governments
create targeted employment areas, called regional centers. Inside these regional centers,
the minimum investment is lowered to $500 thousand and inside the regional center, job
creation is measured by how many indirect jobs are created.

Regional centers range from ethanol production in Texas to ski resorts in Vermont,
McRay said. There are 45 centers in 19 states, but not one is in Michigan.

McRay and his partners are in the process of creating regional centers in Michigan. “The
goal is to get capital in Michigan and to make jobs in Michigan,” McRay said.

Ten thousand visas are set aside for the EB-5 program each year. Of those, three
thousand are set aside for regional centers. This quota has not been met. In 2007 only 779
people applied, which is in stark contrast to other employment based visas like the H1B.

The April program of the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan also included morning
workshops about practical international business topics like hiring foreign employees and
understanding international intellectual property rights.

Zach W. Behler, Patent Attorney at Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C., and Mingyue
Dun, Litigation Attorney at Wilkinson & Grist, Solicitors & Notaries of Hong Kong,
encouraged business owners to do research on countries they are looking to expand in,
because their intellectual properties rights could be very different from the U.S.

“We don’t have an overarching international law dealing with intellectual property,”
Behler said. “There is no such thing as an international copyright.”

In China, some intellectual property laws are very similar to US laws, but there are also
some major differences. One major difference between the US and China is the first
filing principle. In China, if there is a dispute between companies about a trademark, the
one who filed for it first is the one who is granted the trademark instead of the one who
used it first.

Dun recommended US businesses to register trademarks early in the international
expansion process. “There has to be pre-planning to make sure your name and logo are
protected,” said Jean Schtokal of Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C.

Skye Suh, Immigration Attorney at Skye Suh, PLC and Elissa McDaniels, of Sky Suh,
PLC, spoke about how to bring foreign talent into companies. They addressed changes in
the I-9 form, recruitment issues and the different visas available for professionals.

The Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan meets six times a year to focus on global
issues important to mid-Michigan businesses. It is sponsored by Michigan State
University's Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER), the
Greater Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, Lansing Community College,
Michigan State University College of Law, Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith, P.C. and the
Michigan Manufacturers Association.

Written by Gordon Shetler, Graduate Assistant at Global Initiatives.