Jay Peak has developed a new hotel and Disney-esque water park, financed largely with private funding through the Federal EB-5 program. Much more is promised for the next phase. A jaw-dropping six hundred million dollars of EB-5 fueled foreign investment may transform the area: more lodges, hotels, condos and a new state-of-the-art hi-tech bio-tech medical factory are planned, which will, of course, bring jobs. The project is likely to produce change fast and furious enough to stir fears of its overall impact on the community.
The proposal by AnC Bio Vermont chairman Ariel Quiros stands out among the hotels and condos. Land and buildings for the hi-tech medical facility have been purchased, and reports say they will invest $110 million dollars; when completed the factory will generate “in excess” of 3,000 direct and indirect EB-5 jobs.
In support of the project a couple slickly produced promo videos, one featuring Governor Shumlin and Senator Leahy, can be seen online. Some PR releases can be found too, and one from 2011 mentions a new AnC Bio facility in China.
According to a 2011 business report AnC Bio of South Korea …
owns a state-of-the-art cGMP cell culturing facility for stem cell therapies including research, development, and manufacturing of biomedical devices and therapies.
In January 2011 as part of a $4 million investment, AnC Bio Holdings’ Ariel Quiros was given a seat on the board of Bioheart as part of a subscription agreement (early stages of a merger) deal between the two companies. Three months later he was removed from the Bioheart board due to AnC Bio Holdings’ failure to meet its payment obligations. AnCBio had made only one payment of $400,000 of the agreed installments.The tsunami that struck Japan that year was blamed.
Incidentally, AnC Bio’s Vermont chairman also owns G.S.I., a clothing and consumer electronics importing firm based in Dade County, Florida.
Since an actual “brick and mortar” bio=tech manufacturing facility is planned for Vermont, I was hoping to find an old-fashioned image of a sleek AnC-owned factory with manicured lawn and company sign pictured online, but there is none. Yet AnCBio.com is still interesting. At the R & D Center you can click any of the three categories – Cell Therapy, Artificial Organs, and Digital Researches – and you will find that the pages linked to are blank, apparently labeled In preparation for the Vermont project. The latest information in the News Release area is from April 2008. With the ongoing PR push here in Vermont it looks like either bad planning or ineptitude to not keep this section current.
[But wait, there’s more!]
Much of AnC Bio Vermont’s hopes hinge not only on the federal EB-5 program-supplied funding but on the FDA granting approval for its artificial heart device used in surgery. Aha! Well now this is what makes the next category on AnCBio.com interesting.
In the about us section under intellectual property are found seventeen medical process and device patent application notices. Who needs “ brick and mortar” if AnC bio holds useful issued patents and procedures? This “intellectual property” is where the investment value may reside.
The list of intellectual property consists of seventeen items dated from 2001 to 2007. One is listed as issued in three countries; Republic of S. Korea, USA, and Singapore. Okay, maybe this website just hasn’t been fluffed, dusted, or updated lately, which probably isn’t unusual; surely more detailed reports must be available elsewhere.
Company history could be considered as a measure in terms of future performance. AnC Bio was once called The Sports Seoul 21 Company Ltd., and is located at 10th Floor, H&S Tower 119-2 Nonhyun-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, Korea. It has been there since 2009 when Ariel Quiros (now chairman of AnC Bio Vermont) arrived at the ten-year-old Sports Seoul 21 Ltd., along with the new name.
Business profiles done at the time of the name change and some recent profiles online describe AnCBio like this:
The company publishes and prints daily sports newspapers which contain news contents covering various sports including baseball, football, golf and basketball as well as entertainment news. It also offers both printed and online content, and provides links to community-specific information sources for shopping, travel and real estate on its Website. In addition, the company is involved in sports and entertainment related event businesses in South Korea. […] Sports Seoul 21 LTD was incorporated in December 1999.
Dozens of foreign investors are still needed to plunk down their $500,000 green card investment [fee] to kickstart construction of AnC Bio’s Northeast Kingdom medical manufacturing plant. Once the plant is completed and operating in the US, AnC hopes to leverage that fact to speed FDA approval of their artificial heart device.
So, a foreign-based firm that was mostly involved in clothing, consumer electronics, and “sports information” suddenly plans a major factory in a low-income area in hopes of getting federal approval of its apparently not-yet-patented-in-the-US surgical devices. As an investment for EB-5 folks looking for some return beyond their green cards, this sounds more like two-thirds of The Music Man’s seventy-six trombones plus one third Dr. Frankenstein.
Or just maybe it is fast-track EB-5 boosterism. When speaking to a Vermont newspaper about AnC’s bold plans Ariel Quiros said, the company [AnC bio] will "write new history," , and also noted “They called me a mad scientist, but what the world sees as a risk, I continue to pursue it, and pursue it and pursue it.
Watch out NEK – and Vermont! Make sure you’re not selling the family cow for magic beans, only to run into a mean and hungry giant.