Stenger introduces chief executives for two EB-5 projects
By Dan D’Ambrosio, Staff Writer for the Burlington Free Press
April 11, 2013
Two of the major players in a proposed $600 million Northeast Kingdom development project visited their future workplace Thursday.
Bill Stenger and his Jay Peak partner, Ariel Quiros, introduced the chief executive officers of two companies that are expected to together employ more than 600 people. The companies were courted as part of the duo’s EB-5 investment plan.
Dr. Ike Lee, president of the biotech company AnC Bio in South Korea, will also be president and chief executive officer of AnC Bio Vermont, which is a separate company from its Korean namesake. Todd Bachelder, former chief operating officer for Duratherm Window Corp. and York Spiral Stair in Vassalboro, Maine, will be chief executive officer of Menck USA, a German company known for its energy-efficient windows.
Lee is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and the University of Michigan. Bachelder joined Menck Windows full time.
in March and will be moving to the Newport area with his wife soon.
“These are two great companies and we have great leadership now,” Stenger said of Lee and Bachelder.
Stenger and Quiros introduced the CEOs at a news conference Thursday in a small room at the empty, 90,000-square-foot building in Newport formerly occupied by Bogner of America, Inc., which made high-end ski wear.
Bachelder said Vermont’s tradition of woodworking would serve his company well as it begins hiring for positions to produce Menck’s high-efficiency windows. He also cited the region’s supply of wood as an advantage.
“Window manufacturers tend to be focused on the northern parts of the country,” Bachelder said.
Lee was quick to dispel the notion that Newport’s relatively remote location would be a disadvantage for a biotech company, citing the proximity of Montreal and Boston, which are centers of the biotech industry in Canada and the United States, respectively. He also said his company would collaborate with the University of Vermont to develop new technologies and bring them to the market.
As for the scientists the company will need to attract, Lee said Newport is actually an advantage.
“Many scientists want to live in a rural setting, but there’s been no opportunity,” Lee said. “Maybe we’ll even bring back kids who went away from Vermont to Silicon Valley.”
It's about jobs
The federal EB-5 program allows foreign investors to receive a conditional green card in return for a $500,000 investment in a rural or impoverished area of the United States. After two years, if 10 full-time jobs have been created, the investor receives a permanent green card for himself and his family.
Stenger and Quiros have created what might be the biggest EB-5 program in the country, and the most ambitious development project Vermont has ever seen. In addition to AnC Bio Vermont and Menck USA, their plans include expansion and renovation at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain Resort, which they also own, and a commercial makeover of Newport that includes a new luxury hotel and marina on Lake Memphremagog and a new block of businesses, office space and residences downtown.
All told, the projects add up to $600 million worth of investment in the Northeast Kingdom and 10,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs. Stenger said there would be “north of 500” jobs at AnC Bio Vermont, which he said would break ground this year, with the goal of opening in December 2014. Menck, which Bachelder said would begin shipping windows in the first quarter of 2014, will bring another 140 jobs to the Kingdom.
“What is this all about? It’s about jobs,” Stenger said, a sentiment he has repeated often and in a variety of venues.
Everything is in synch
Stenger also took the opportunity to update the progress of the five separate projects that make up his EB-5 investments, which he said were all at different phases of their development.
“All five projects are in synch,” Stenger said. “Each have their own tracks, but everyone is moving along.”
Several Jay Peak EB-5 projects have been completed, including the $75 million Jay Hotel and the $25 million Pump House Indoor Waterpark. Stenger said permitting has begun for the first phase of Burke Mountain’s development, including the construction of the first two hotels and lodge, set to begin this summer and open in December 2014.
In Newport, construction of the so-called Renaissance Block downtown — new retail, office space and residences to replace the beleaguered Spates Block — will begin next spring, with a targeted opening date during the summer of 2015.
Construction of the Newport Marina and Conference Center on the shores of Lake Memphremagog on land owned by Burlington’s Tony Pomerleau is planned to begin in the fall of 2014, with a targeted opening date of December 2015.
At the Newport Airport, which Stenger said is no longer an EB-5 project, but is being privately funded, environmental assessments and permitting has begun for construction on a 1,000-foot extension of the runway by the end of 2014. Plans also include new terminal aprons, a flight school and bonded warehouses, construction on all of which is planned for next year.
Quiros threw a new development into the mix where the airport is concerned, saying three light aircraft will arrive there in May that will form the basis for a new business that eventually will include assembling the airplanes in Newport.
Quiros said the airplanes include components from Russia, Germany and the United States, and that they can be used to train pilots for half the usual cost. He said he couldn’t yet reveal the name of the aircraft’s manufacturer, but that he would announce it in May.
The airport has been designated as a Free Trade Zone, which Stenger said will attract companies to operate their businesses there.
The Spates Block in Newport is named after lifelong resident Doug Spates, who consolidated ownership of the downtown block over nearly 30 years, buying one building after another. Spates owns Memphremagog Rentals in Newport with his wife, Viv.
Stenger has been working with Spates to determine what environmental concerns might have to be addressed when tearing down the buildings, some a century old, which make up the Spates Block.
“We’re creating a punch list to make sure there are no surprises,” Stenger said.