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China invests in Imperial County

China has become a major source of investment money for Imperial County, investing in projects ranging from hotels to solar generators, according to the head of the Imperial County Economic Development Corp.

At the 10th annual China Business Outlook conducted by the San Diego World Trade Center, Timothy Kelly, president and CEO of the county’s EDC, said Chinese banks and wealthy individuals have become an increasingly important source of funding for the county, which hosted more than 50 Chinese delegations last year.

Kelly said that in the recent past, Chinese investment helped the funding of the Alliance Regional Center, which includes a Holiday Inn (“hotels are a very easy-to-explain market in China”), as well as the El Centro Town Center, where Chinese dollars helped attract the University of Phoenix.

One reason for the investment, Kelly said, is the EB-5 visa, which allows foreigners to move to the United States if they have invested at least $500,000 here.

“Many people are looking for ways of getting their money or their families out of China,” he said. “But we’re seeing our greatest success now with Chinese banks.”

Chinese banks, which often have strong reserves in U.S. dollars, have become increasingly interested in foreign investments, partly out of concern that the domestic market may be overpriced.

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