CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        Will the EB-5 program survive past its expiration date?

        A prime source of capital for real estate developers since the Great Recession has been EB-5 money. The EB-5 program provides a method for foreign nationals investing money in the United States to obtain a green card by investing $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area (defined as an area of high unemployment or a rural area) or $1 million outside a Targeted Employment Area. The investment must create or preserve at least ten jobs for workers in the United States.

        The EB-5 program has received significant attention in the general news media in recent weeks, mainly due to efforts by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law to obtain capital for the Kushner Companies’ nearly $1 billion residential and commercial project in New Jersey. Jared Kushner’s sister was in Beijing in early May seeking investors at an event in which advertisements stated, “Invest $500,000 and immigrate to the United States.” Nicole Kushner Meyer spoke at the event, mentioned her brother’s position as a senior advisor to President Trump, and used a photograph of the President in her presentation. This has created a firestorm of criticism from ethics watchdogs who view this as a blatant attempt to leverage family ties to the President by Kushner Companies.

        What does this renewed attention mean for the future of the EB-5 program? The program was scheduled to expire on April 28; however, Congressional action has extended the EB-5 Regional Center statute with the continuing resolution to September 30. President Trump has not yet taken a position specifically on the continuance of EB-5 program beyond its statutory termination date (although his companies have raised capital in the past through the program), but he did take an anti-immigration stance during his campaign and has vowed to severely tighten the use of work visas for immigrants.

        In addition, both Republican and Democrat members of Congress have criticized the EB-5 program as being opaque in its administration because the government does not adequately monitor how the invested money is used until far too late in the process, if at all. Another frequent critique is the claim that real estate developers abuse the program by promoting projects in wealthy areas as opposed to in Targeted Employment Areas, thus defeating the program’s original purpose of using EB-5 money as a catalyst to increased economic activity in depressed communities. A third critique is that the EB-5 program amounts to selling United States citizenship to high net worth foreign nationals at the expense of other, poorer would be immigrants.

        At this time it is uncertain if the EB-5 program will survive, and if so, in what form. Various suggestions have been made by critics and supporters alike to fix the perceived flaws in the program. Among the suggested cures are a call to include a new requirement that a third-party administrator monitor how EB-5 money is used. Presumably, this would be a governmental appointee, perhaps operating out of an approved EB-5 Regional Center. Another frequent suggestion is to require much greater transparency with respect to the sources and uses of all EB-5 funds, coupled with mandated disclosure to investors and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

        USCIS issued proposed regulations earlier this year to increase the EB-5 investment amount in Targeted Employment Areas to $1.35 million and in other areas to $1.8 million. In addition, if enacted, the new proposed regulations will give the federal government more control over where the investments are deployed and steer more investments to economically troubled areas. Unless Congress continues to extend the EB-5 Regional Center statute with further continuing resolutions, some level of reform will likely come this year. The White House did say that it wants to ensure that all EB-5 money is “used as intended and that investment is being spread to all areas of the country.” Thus, there is some reason for optimism that the EB-5 program will survive in some form. However, the real lesson is that the smart move is to take advantage of the existing program with its $500,000/$1 million minimum investment limits prior to September 30.