EB-5 Charges No Surprise For Aberdeen Residents
The man who led a federal program offering visas in exchange for foreign investment dollars in South Dakota faces criminal charges in Aberdeen. That city was home to a failed beef plant that used EB-5 money. Some Aberdeen residents say the charges were expected.
Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levson says it wasn’t a surprise that charges were brought against Joop Bollen. He says concern over the EB-5 scandal has faded for people in his community.
“Because this isn’t an Aberdeen story,” Levson says. “This is a Washington DC story and a Pierre story. This is a federal program administered by state officials. And it has really no more connection to Aberdeen than it does to any other city in the state.”
The failed Northern Beef Packers plant had used EB-5 money, but Levson says the failure was not because of the EB-5 scandal. The plant is up and running now, under new management and a new name.
NSU political science professor Jon Schaff says the imperative behind looking into the EB-5 problem had subsided once the New Angus plant began operating.
“Certainly, if people are committing illegal acts, we want them prosecuted,” Schaff says. “But, hopefully, it can at least do something to bring some closure to this, maybe create the correct actions on the part of our state to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And then we can move on from there. And hopefully the things that surround this particular scandal, namely the beef plant here in Aberdeen can kind of move beyond the scandal. We can just get to having a successful beef plant for the city of Aberdeen and the area.”
Schaff says with the new plant moving in the right direction, what was once a potential disaster could have a happy ending.