Guest commentary: Foreign investors need help in effort to stay here

Once again, the almost incalculable contribution to the economy made by entrepreneurs is being highlighted by the Florida Venture Forum and the Economic Development Council of Collier County. Both organizations are dedicated to bringing prosperity to our region. Also, they offer support to those brave souls willing to take that giant leap into the unknown, hoping to achieve their dream of being self-employed and, just maybe, making a good living in the bargain.

As the Venture Forum and EDC concentrate their efforts on bringing would-be entrepreneurs and would-be investors together to form successful partnerships and, hopefully, create employment, there’s another group of dedicated business people struggling for recognition and definitely worthy of their support.

I refer to E2 investors, foreign nationals who, increasingly, statistics show, list Florida as their destination of choice.

Smart, educated, motivated people from all over the world want to come here to start a new life, invest their money and create jobs for U.S. citizens. The fact that E2 investors can obtain only temporary visas that require constant renewal is causing many to rethink their plans and turn to other countries where they can apply for citizenship after five years in business.

Starting a new life abroad is not for the faint-hearted. However, having decided to take such an enormous gamble, having relocated and settled one’s family and committed oneself to the long hours and sacrifice required to be a successful entrepreneur, the last thing the E2 investor needs is to be living with constant uncertainty about the future.

U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Lakeland, paid close attention when one of his constituents explained how a small change in legislation would make investing in Florida so much more attractive to foreign nationals. He introduced H.R. 1162 which, if it became law, would allow successful E2 investors who employ Americans to apply for permanent residence (green card) after five years.

E2Reform.org will be hosting an event for E2 investors to get together and work out how to persuade the Obama administration to acknowledge our contribution to the economy and offer us and our U.S. citizen employees some job security.

The congressman is hoping to attend our event at the Omni Orland Resort on Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. A British film crew from Studio Lambert will be filming the event for a documentary about Brits living in Florida, to be aired on prime-time TV.

We are pleased to welcome speakers from the British/American Chamber of Commerce and the British Business Connection.

There are still spaces available for E2 investors, their families and supporters. Entrance to the event is free. There will be a cash bar and prize drawings.

For more information or register to attend, please contact me at (239) 598-3822 or Zoe Adams at (863) 709-9555.

Mold is a Naples business owner. Read her blog, Immigration Reformer, at naplesnews.com/blogs

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