US Maine seeks Chinese investors

Updated: 2012-11-06 13:29


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Maine, on the northeastern coast of the United States, isn't exactly a hotbed of Chinese investment. Only one company in the state is owned by Chinese investors. That's why Maine recently embarked on its first trade mission to China.

Related: Investment from China in US reaches record high

General Manager Christopher Farmer tours the Saddleback Ski Resort in Maine. It has 66 runs, 5 lifts and 100 condominiums.

Farmer says in the winter 100,000 skiers from the US and Canada hit the resort's slopes. He'd like to see that number double and is seeking up to $25 million in investment for upgrades and expansions.

The first priority is to replace one of the double chair lifts with a new quad chair. He also wants to expand occupancy by building more condos and maybe even a hotel.

Christopher Farmer, general manager of Saddleback Ski Resort, said, "With this new investment it'll allow us to create hundreds of jobs in the area and build the resort to the level - to the potential it has."

Chris recently visited China to speak to potential investors about this resort and about the EB5 visa program of which he is the president in the state of Maine. Now this visa offers a path to citizenship to foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 and create at least 10 jobs in the state of Maine.

The traditional EB5 visa costs $1 million but if foreign investors put money into a rural area where jobs are scarce - it costs half that amount. In 2011, the vast majority of EB5 visa recipients were Chinese.

Janine Cary, Maine's State Director of International Trade, escorted Farmer on Maine's first trade mission to China. She says Maine welcomes Chinese investment despite political rhetoric suggesting the contrary.

"One of the things that we discussed while on the mission is how important it is for when Chinese companies are coming in and talking about investing - of them becoming part of the community because unfortunately we do have a bit of a situation going on politically just in terms of the rhetoric that could give the wrong impression in terms of states being welcoming." He said.

Farmer certainly hopes to attract Chinese investment and he just might. He said 7 registered agents in China have expressed interest in his resort.