Big Expansion at Jay Peak

Excerpted from in Burlington: JAY, Vt. — The normally quiet off-season at the Jay Peak Ski Resort this summer is anything but, as 200 construction workers — almost all from the local area — race to complete a new $20 million base lodge and hotel in time for the upcoming winter. Jay Peak, which opened in 1955, sits near the Canadian border in Vermont’s Orleans County, an area with one of the state’s highest unemployment rates.

But resort owner Bill Stenger hopes his multi-year resort expansion project will help change that. Gov. Jim Douglas joined Stenger and scores of contractors and local leaders for a groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon marking the start of phase two of the expansion.

Work begins this week on a new ice arena, expected to be finished next spring — followed by a golf course clubhouse, a second hotel and conference center, and an indoor water park. All told, Stenger says, Jay Peak will invest more than $100 million on the property over the next few years, by far the largest development underway in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

The year-round amenities, he estimates will in turn lead to 600-700 jobs. “We’re not going to have to lay off the hundreds of people we now lay off at the end of the ski season,” Stenger said. “We’ll be able to energize this region’s economy and we’re excited about that.”

The financing for the Jay Peak project is coming from foreign investors, rather than traditional credit markets. Stenger says he has worked for years to tap in to the EB-5 program created by Congress. Under the program, investors willing to put at least $500,000 at risk in an approved equity project that creates new local jobs are in turn eligible for permanent residency in the United States.

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