In an upstate New York town of roughly 15,000, a Long Island developer is facing pushback for plans to build a Chinese education center using the controversial EB-5 investor program that trades foreign investment for United States citizenship.
The Thompson Education Center (TEC), which is predominantly in the Town of Thompson with a portion in the Town of Fallsburg, was first proposed in 2013 as China City of America, a “Chinese Disneyland” with an amusement park, an education center, a hotel, housing, and a mall.
Over time, the project was whittled down to just the education center with some on-campus housing, a hotel, a museum, a library, and other education-related buildings.
The various incarnations of the project have received a warm welcome by local development and tourism organizations, but it’s also facing opposition from locals who see it as out of place in their bucolic community, and a threat to the environment and their way of life.
Developer Sherry Li could not be reached for comment for this article, but initially the project was to be partially funded through EB-5 investment.
In a December 2013 press release, Li said she chose the Town of Thompson to build China City of America “because it clearly fits within the United States Citizenship Immigration Services (USCIS) target area definition for the EB-5 program.”
The federal EB-5 program lets foreigners who invest a minimum of $500,000 in rural or high unemployment areas get temporary green cards and eventually citizenship for themselves and their family. The minimum investment amount increases to $1 million for non-rural and high-employment…
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