For the state, that money - $73.5 million - could be a cheap way for the Convention Center to borrow funds to cover some of the expansion's construction costs, which are projected to surge over the $700 million budgeted. (Under the loan program, the money would be repaid, over five years, at a remarkably low interest rate of 2.5 percent.)
But for now the Convention Center, as cash-starved as it is, has no interest in the foreign funds.
"We considered it. We looked at it. But it was kind of a bridge too far . . . too complex for us to consider," Buck Riley, chairman of the 15-member Convention Center Authority, said last week. "Right now, it is a dead issue."
Another board member said the board was hesitant to get involved with what seemed like "immigration policy." ...
... "It did not go over well. It seemed something outside our realm," said board member David Woods, chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Domenic Pileggi (R., Delaware). "People were concerned they were dealing with immigration policy while they should really be focused on financing for the Convention Center."
There may be more to the story. Philadelphia is no stranger to EB-5 ventures and there is ample precedent for the board to consider. Furthermore, CanAm Enterprises does all the heavy lifting concerning navigating immigration protocol.
Since I'm one of those irresponsible bloggers, I'll go out on a limb and point the finger of suspicion at the current wave of xenophobia surrounding foreign direct investment. The backlash against InBev's purchase of Anheuser Busch is a measure of the heat that the board might have been feeling. Then again, money tends to follow established paths of trust and I doubt board members had much confidence in CanAm's ability to deliver. The risk of the unknown is the simplest explanation.