Florida Organic Aquaculture Project Funded by EB-5
An entrepreneur that came to the U.S. from South Africa for better opportunities, Clifford Morris was looking for industries with economic potential and identified the future trend of sustainable food production, but he needed funding. He turned to EB-5 and Morris is now founder and president of Mirzam Investor Greencard, LLC., which received its EB-5 Regional Center designation from USCIS in July 2010.
Morris and his team secured $1.3 million worth of seed capital for their RC between 2008-2010, and began marketing for their EB-5 project in 2011.
The first project was the development of Florida Organic Aquaculture. This Fellsmere, Fla. facility offers sustainably grown, all natural environmentally beneficial seafood. Currently, the company serves South Florida and has the motto, “If they aren’t good enough for our family, they aren’t good enough for yours.”
As a lifelong entrepreneur, Morris, who has over 30 years of experience in private wealth management, has traveled the world and seen for himself the devastating effects of short-term, environmentally harmful agriculture and aquaculture practices. A native of South Africa, Morris has long been interested in developing sustainable alternatives that will positively benefit our global health and future generations for years to come.
Morris’ system differs from traditional aquaculture. The shrimp are grown in a high density, enclosed, concentrated, temperature-controlled system (think an Olympic-sized swimming pool) in a bacteria culture called biofloc that’s rich with nutrients and energy. Only a handful of farms in the U.S. currently produce shrimp using modern recirculating water systems, and FOA is one of them. Morris reports high demand for the product, which is fresh, never frozen, born in the USA, and all natural (no additives or chemicals).
The facility’s official ribbon cutting ceremony was in April 2014, and since then, says John Billian, vice president of business development for FOA, “Business has been going great! We have been selling to distributors, restaurants, as well as direct to the public and the feedback we have received has been outstanding! We never get tired of hearing ‘this is the best shrimp I’ve ever eaten.’ From a business perspective, the margins are rather healthy as well.”
To help introduce the “Happy Healthy Shrimp” to the public, FOA sells the shrimp live on Saturdays at a local market in Fellsmere from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are usually sold out before 11 a.m.
On Board with EB-5
Mirzam raised $16 million for the Florida Organic Aquaculture project. Due to this success, they are now launching a second phase and are working to raise an additional $10 million in EB-5 capital. The second capital raise will be for additional production buildings.
“We already have the funding in place for the hatchery and nursery, which are currently under construction,” said Billian.
“The bulk of our EB-5 investors are from China and Venezuela. In addition, we have some investors from Peru, South Africa, and Argentina,” explained Billian.
FOA also received support from local and city governments in Fellsmere, where Mirzam is acknowledged for bringing a lot of good credibility to the EB-5 program and as having successful role in the economic development of Indian River County.
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