For real estate developer, Garrett Kenny, things are looking
up. He was forced to gear back his operations in recent years after his company,
Feltrim Developments, lost funding in 2009 for the redevelopment of the
Grenelefe Golf and Tennis Resort in Haines City, FL. He had spent two years planning
and $6 million in pursuit of the project. Around the same time, Feltrim's
flagship condominium resort, the Tuscana, struggled with low occupancy while
$12 million remained outstanding on the construction loan. Despite
difficulties, Kenny "re-engineered" Feltrim Developments and appears to be
bouncing back with the aid of foreign investment funding.


While Kenny is not pursuing his
typical big ticket commercial and residential real estate projects at the
moment, he has found success by flipping distressed houses and selling them
mainly to international investors. And, since his development projects simply
couldn't compete with the foreclosures in the state, he also began acquiring
real estate offices. Because Kenny was able to successfully market to China on
the real estate side, he recognized foreign wealth as a potential source of
funding for his projects by taking advantage of the EB-5
immigrant investor visa program


The EB-5 program was created by
Congress in 2000 to stimulate the economy by attracting foreign investment
capital into the United States and create jobs. The EB-5 category grants
permanent resident status to foreign entrepreneurs and their families when they
invest one million dollars into a new commercial entity that creates 10 jobs
for U.S. citizens. The investment amount is reduced to $500,000 and the job
creation requirement is relaxed to allow the preservation of 10 jobs (instead
of the creation of new ones) when the money is invested into a project in a
targeted employment area or a rural area with high unemployment.


Now Kenny plans to develop again and
to that end is seeking approval to establish an EB-5 regional center in
Davenport where Feltrim's headquarters is located. A regional center is a third
party investment vehicle that has received the necessary designation by the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Since the USCIS grants
the visas, many foreign entrepreneurs find regional centers a safer option when
deciding upon where to invest.


A hotel in Haines City, FL is one of
the first projects Kenny has earmarked for EB-5 funds. According to the
president of the Haines City Economic Development Council, Paul Senft, certain
hotels are in dire need of funds. By their nature, hotels make attractive
projects for EB-5 investors because they create both direct and indirect jobs
for the local area, making compliance with one of USCIS' requirements less of a
concern. For Kenny, the hotel is his first step back into the development
realm. supplies
information and directories for EB-5 attorneys.