HESPERIA As Victorville's hopes for a municipally-run EB-5 visa investor center fizzle, Hesperia's chances for getting a privately-run center that will turn local jobs into visas for overseas investors appears to be on the rise.


American Franchise Regional Center got federal approval to set up an EB-5 center here this summer, according to Agnes Yen, principal owner and vice-president of the company. Now the challenge for AFRC is lining up financing, as the program is intended to help new or struggling businesses.


Under the EB-5 visa program for immigrant investors, foreign nationals who invest at least $1 million or $500,000 in a targeted employment area into American businesses and create at least 10 jobs can get a green card in return. The program was created by the Immigration Act of 1990, which was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush.


"We were actually thinking of doing something (with the Hesperia Redevelopment Agency)," Yen said, "but we were not able to do it."


California's redevelopment agencies were dissolved Thursday, after the Supreme Court upheld a motion from Gov. Jerry Brown to shut them down as a way to save the cash-strapped state money.


Although she wouldn't venture a guess about when AFRC will begin matching investors with California businesses, Yen is optimistic that it'll happen in 2012.


"So far, everything looks very good right now," she said.


AFRC will work as a regional clearing-house for putting investors together with businesses across Southern California.


The Los Angeles-based company sought and received the endorsement of the Hesperia City Council for the project back in March.


In contrast, Victorville established its own EB-5 center and had an investor recruiter working on behalf of the city. In late December, a federals appeals court upheld the termination of Victorville's troubled EB-5 program, through which the city had hoped to secure millions in funding.


Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.