Paterson Brings Chinese Immigrant Investors to New York

(Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

(Photo via Sing Tao Daily)

Many people know former Gov. David Paterson worked as a radio program host after he left Albany. Few know he has a side job: Helping some development projects in New York to attract rich Chinese who might be interested in getting a green card by investing $500,000. Since 2011, Paterson has traveled to China three times. And he is making his fourth trip on Dec. 12. This trip is for the green taxi project of NuRide Transportation Group, a Long Island City-based transportation company that is raising money for expansion. “I might be the first former governor in the U.S. going to China to promote the EB-5 [investment immigration] program,” said Paterson.

After he left office at the end of 2010, Paterson took a short-lived job at WOR radio station as a program host. He also started working for some private development projects in New York to raise money from prospective Chinese immigrant investors. The first project he helped promote was the Times Square Hotel project launched by the New York Immigration Fund. He visited cities like Beijing and Guangzhou, talked to hundreds of interested Chinese and eventually raised $75 million from 150 investors.

In 2013, Paterson went to China again to promote the Crowne Plaza Hotel project in Long Island City. His efforts helped the project raise $44.5 million from 89 investors.

On Dec. 12, Paterson will arrive in China and start to promote NuRide’s project in Shanghai and Nanjing. NuRide, for which Paterson is a board member, has already been running green taxi and delivery cars. This new project aims to raise $20 million from 40 immigrant investors in the first phase to purchase more green taxies and to remodel some of them.

Paterson said the New York Supreme Court requires the city to have 20 percent of its green taxis accessible to disabled people. The city had postponed the deadline from Jan. 1, 2015 to a year later. But it still doesn’t have a workable plan to fulfill the requirement because few taxi companies want to operate accessible cars, which are more costly.

Paterson said NuRide’s project may solve the problem. The company plans to operate both regular green taxis and accessible ones. It will offer its drivers extra bonuses for driving accessible cars and the costs will be balanced by the revenue from the newly purchased regular cars.

Paterson said other than helping the city fulfill its obligation, the model may also be able to help improve the MTA’s Access-A-Ride program.

The promotional brochure, in Chinese, has pictures of Paterson giving a speech as governor as well as former Mayor Michael Bloomberg grinning in a green taxi. Paterson said he has talked to the TLC (Taxi & Limousine Commission) and current Mayor Bill de Blasio about the project. But he noted this project is not a governmental project but rather a private one. “We can help the city to fill the void. So the city will be willing to work with us. But of course, an EB-5 program won’t be a governmental one unless people from the government are present at the promotion,” said Paterson.

Also, the city must have an open BID before it grants contracts for accessible taxis to private companies. Paterson said there will be competition then, and it is possible that other companies may come up with a better project and NuRide won’t get the contract. But it is more likely that “we are the only company filing the RFP or the most competitive one,” he said.

Paterson is proud of an agreement New York State signed with the Department of Homeland Security when he was governor that clarified some procedures of the EB-5 program. Forty states followed and signed such an agreement. He said he also talked with Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) about the EB-5 program. “He didn’t know about this program then. And when I told him about it, he exclaimed: That’s legitimate immigration. The benefits the EB-5 program brings to our economy might be one of the very few things that the Democrats and the Republicans agree with,” he said.

Nationwide, 85 percent of immigrants who get green cards through the EB-5 program are Chinese. Paterson, being a frequent visitor to China now, is impressed by the fierce competition in this field. “In 2011 when I went to China, our competitor (a Chinese EB-5 services company) said on their website that Gov. Paterson is a liar. A few days later, a potential investor took a selfie with me at a promotional event. The picture soon appeared on the same website with an announcement: ‘Gov. Paterson will work with us soon,’” Paterson said.

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