BRINNON — The federal government has denied an application from The Statesman Group that the developer says is vital to its plans for a $300 million marina-golf resort at Black Point.
Citing the “importance of support,” the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services earlier this month rejected the company’s application to take part in a temporary visa program, hindering Statesman’s effort to attract foreign investors who could gain permanent visas after two years by putting $500,000 into the project, company President Garth Mann said Friday.
Mann said Statesman has resubmitted the application.
Statesman wants the agency to classify the proposed 252-acre Pleasant Harbor Marina and Golf Resort south of Brinnon as a “designated regional center” under the federal EB-5 program.
A regional center is “any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation and increased domestic capital investment,” Citizen and Immigration Services spokeswoman Sharon Rummery said.
Under the EB-5 program, 230 foreign residents would each invest $500,000 in the marina-golf resort project.
Each investment would have to directly or indirectly create 10 jobs in Washington, The Statesmen Group says.
In return, the investors — after undergoing extensive background checks — would receive two-year visas for themselves or for family members, including children who could attend schools in the United States, Mann said.
After two years, the investors could qualify for “green cards,” or permanent resident status.
The three Jefferson County commissioners have unanimously approved a land-use designation of master-planned resort for the Black Point area.
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks’ spokesman, George Behan, said Friday that two members of the congressman’s staff recently started reviewing the project.
“We haven’t gotten to the point where we’ve fully vetted it,” Behan said.
“We’re not in a position where Norm has taken a stand either way. We’re looking into the job potential and the environmental issues involved.”
Dicks represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.
Concerns about the project
People for Puget Sound has raised concerns about the impact of logging necessary to build the resort-golf course, while Mann has said no clear-cutting will take place and that the project will include a tree farm.
Mann also said that withdrawal from the aquifer will be minimized and geothermal heating and cooling systems will be installed.
This is at least the third time Citizenship and Immigration Services has rejected Statesman’s EB-5 application, Mann said.
The latest reviewer “missed the intent of the planned resort, including the extent of the investment and the creation of 2,300 direct and indirect jobs,” he said.
“They thought the total amount of investment we were looking for was $300,000, but the investment is $300 million,” Mann said.
“Whether they misread it, I don’t know, but it blew us out of the water.”
Pleasant Harbor would add 280 jobs to the Brinnon community, a rural area afflicted with unemployment that’s significantly higher than the statewide average of 9.2 percent, Mann said.
The EB-5 application must explain how the center will achieve economic growth and include a business model with market conditions, project costs and activity timelines.
It must also show “in verifiable detail” how jobs will be created and “the amount and source of capital committed to the project,” Rummery said.
Financing for the project is essentially nonexistent in the United States, Mann said.
“Unfortunately, money is extremely difficult to come by these days, and the EB-5 program circumvents the usual process and procedure for financing,” Mann said.
Statesman is based in Canada. The project and application are being coordinated out of Statesman’s Phoenix, Ariz., office, Mann said.
Rummery said late Friday she did not know if the agency’s written notification rejecting the EB-5 application was public, and Mann said Friday he did not have a copy available.
________Staff writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.