Gorman, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey left for China this morning to woo downtown hotel investors

Gorman, Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey left for China this morning to woo downtown hotel investors

EB-5 Visa, EB5 Visa, EB-5 Investment

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey is on his way to China to woo investors for a $67 million, 160-room Embassy Suites hotel downtown.

Morrissey and Gary Gorman, president of Wisconsin-based Gorman & Company, left for China this morning. They have meetings over several days in Shanghai and Shenzhen, hoping their pitch for the project will convince wealthy Chinese residents to put $500,000 into the project in exchange for a visa to live in the United States.

"I'm still very optimistic that we have an opportunity to start construction on this in the fall," Morrissey said. "That's why I'm making the trip."

Morrissey's China trips are paid for by Gorman under a development agreement the company has with the city.

Gorman wants to convert the vacant 13-story Amerock building into a hotel, using money from China, historic tax credits and loans. Gorman is raising money in China through EB-5, a U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services program. Foreign citizens can get green cards for investing a half-million dollars in projects that create 10 jobs in economically distressed areas.

Gorman said Wednesday that he's raised $11 million from 22 investors. He wants to add at least eight investors on this trip, which would mean a total of $15 million for the project.

How much Gorman plans on raising has been a moving target. Originally, it was $25 million. Gorman applied to increase that amount to $43 million, but U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services authorized a maximum of $33 million, he said.

Fundraising is likely to continue after construction begins. Gorman said he won't speculate on a start date, waiting until financing is in place.

"Developers get into trouble starting projects they don't have the money to finish," he said. "I'm not going to do that. In deals like this you just have to keep hammering away until it's done."

But he reiterated his commitment to the project.

"I own the building, and have $1 million and three years in staff time invested in this," he said. "It will get done. It's just a matter of timing."

Gorman and Morrissey plan on returning from China on Tuesday.




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