Chamber Partnership to Leverage Foreign Investment Opportunities in South Central Kentucky

Work with EB-5 Regional Center will increase investment potential...

Published Friday, June 3, 2016 8:00 am

Recently, Chamber officials convened regional economic development partners and local government officials in a meeting with Bluegrass International Fund President and CEO Lynn Allen to elevate the discussion of foreign direct investment in South Central Kentucky.

The Employment-Based Fifth Preference Program, or EB-5, was created by the U.S. Congress in 1990 to stimulate the American economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. The 10-county South Central Kentucky region supports over 60 companies made possible by foreign direct investment.

To qualify for EB-5, a project must be anticipated to meet or exceed the job creation requirement of 10 jobs for every $500,000 investment with a minimum investment of $1 million (or $500,000 within a targeted employment area). The Chamber’s partnership with BiF will help identify opportunities for eligible projects in South Central Kentucky. All BiF Regional Center projects must be approved by the U.S. government.

“The partnership between the Chamber and the Bluegrass International Fund will add to our economic development toolbox,” said Ron Bunch, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “For the first time in our 10-county region, we will be able to reach out to developers and share with them the funding potential for projects made possible through the EB-5 program.”

The EB-5 program is a proven method of attracting new jobs and investment into communities. According to BiF’s website,, EB-5 programs nationally have attracted more than $6.5 billion in foreign direct investment, generating an estimated 100,000 full-time American jobs between 2005 and 2013.

“There is great potential in South Central Kentucky, including the potential for projects that align with the mission of The Bluegrass International Fund. New opportunities that may develop as a result of this partnership will be valuable for Warren County and South Central Kentucky’s economic development programs,” said Warren County Judge Executive Mike Buchanon.

The incentive for foreign investment comes from the investor’s consideration for U.S. residency. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2015, 96 percent of EB-5 visas were allocated to Chinese nationals.

“Bowling Green continues to flourish with economic development opportunity,” said Mayor Bruce Wilkerson. “In recent years, we have experienced great success and we will be able to build on that success by leveraging investors sourced through the partnership between the Chamber and The Bluegrass International Fund.”

Frankfort-based BiF operates as an EB-5 Regional Center. BiF investment efforts focus on mixed-use developments, biomedical and healthcare facilities, research and education institutions, and advanced manufacturing projects suitable for the Kentucky and Southern Indiana region it serves.

“South Central Kentucky has so much growth potential, especially because of its thriving manufacturing sector and Western Kentucky University,” said Lynn Allen, CEO of BiF. “We are delighted to partner with the region to help promote economic growth on a large scale.”

For more information about the Bluegrass International Fund, please visit For project eligibility information, please contact Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Ron Bunch at 270-781-3200 or


About Bluegrass International Fund

BiF’s founders and board members are Mike Mountjoy, Louisville, Founder and Chair of Mountjoy Chilton Medley and current Chair of The Gheens Foundation; Barrett Nichols, Louisville, Founder and CEO of BSG Financial Group and board member of the James Graham Brown Foundation; Lynn Allen, Louisville, Founder and CEO of Capital Innovations and advisory board member of Accelerating Appalachia and the Purdue Emerging Innovations Fund; Brad Cowgill, Lexington, President of SmartClaim and Pixar Financial Services, and former Budget Director for Kentucky; Steve Graves, Lexington, founder and principal of Murphy + Graves + Trimble, PLLC, a leading architectural firm in Lexington;  Michael Grisanti, Louisville, founder of Casa Grisanti restaurants and co-founder of the largest franchise developer of Papa John’s Pizza; Bobby Owens, Lexington, a divisional president with an international insurance brokerage firm; Brad Ray, Louisville, managing director of BTR Advisory Services, retired CEO and Chairman of Steel Technologies, and board member Bellarmine University; and Vince Tyra, Louisville, President of ISCO Industries.

About the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce:

Incorporated in 1935, the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce is a 5-Star Accredited Chamber by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was named the 2009 Chamber of the Year by the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. As the fourth largest chamber in Kentucky, the Chamber serves as a premier business advocate for its more than 1,200 partners and is the driving force for economic development in South Central Kentucky. Its primary goals are to promote growth and success in the business community, reaching its small business partners and those in large industries alike. With leadership programs, governmental relations projects, educational initiatives and involvement opportunities, the Chamber aims to support the community and its neighbors in order to enhance the business climate and continue to grow the region. Learn more about South Central Kentucky’s advantages at