In last week’s update on recent stadium news, the EB-5 program was mentioned as a funding avenue local politicians were looking at to help fund a new stadium solution for the Rays. Over the weekend, a well-informed source reached out to the site to offer some more in-depth information on the program that neither the original article nor the pieces that it linked to had explained. This person provided the information on the condition of anonymity but the provided credentials provide plenty of credibility to the information.
This person stated that any association between the Brooklyn Nets Arena and anything in Tampa Bay needs to be taken with a grain of salt as not one penny of EB-5 money for the Brooklyn Nets area is being used to fund anything related to the Arena construction. The entire plan was marketed as a "NBA Project" by the New York City Regional Center to Chinese investors but the actual money is being used differently. Instead of offsetting Arena construction, the money is being used to fund a mixed use project that is part of Brooklyn’s master plan for the redevelopment of the immediate area just down the street from the arena.
This person also stated that despite the fact Pinellas and Hillsborough County are not considered Target Employment Areas (TEA) under the strict definition of the requirements on such projects. The Florida state government could determine that the location of the stadium is in an area of economic need and thus allow the project to qualify for a $500,000 investment amount from each foreign investor instead of the suggested $1 million. There is also the tried and true method of essentially gerrymandering census tracts so that the contiguous census tracts that will benefit from the economic development project provide an unemployment average that is 150 percent of the national average.
In this case, the area would have an umemployment rate of 12.3 percent which is 150 percent above the national average of 8.2. This person stated that this method is how high socio-economic areas such as Jupiter, Florida, Hollywood, California and even Times Square have been able to qualify for TEA status on projects.
After reading up on the issue and conversing with this subject matter expert, it would seem that a mixture of EB-5 money along with public and private funding has the opportunity to help construct one of the premier projects in the EB-5 industry and something would seemingly fit in very well with the Invision Tampa project goals.