Foreign Investors to Help Build New American Greetings HQ

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor American Greetings Corp. has struck a deal with the Cleveland International Fund to finance its planned new world headquarters. Announced in May, the facility, to be constructed in Crocker Park, will house more than 1,000 jobs and [...]

American Greetings Corp. has struck a deal with the Cleveland International Fund to finance its planned new world headquarters. Announced in May, the facility, to be constructed in Crocker Park, will house more than 1,000 jobs and make American Greetings Westlake’s biggest employer., The new facility will total 700,000 square feet on 13 acres off of Main Street at Crocker Park.

The project will cost $150 million to $200 million over the next three to four years. The Cleveland International Fund plans to raise $65 million for the project and another $10 million to expand the adjacent Crocker Park retail, office and residential center. That means almost half of the project’s cost will come from foreign investors.

The Cleveland International Fund will use a foreign-investment program to attract investors, primarily from China and South America. Known as the EB-5, the program offers participants a conditional visa or a green card. An investor must put up $500,000 and create at least 10 jobs in order to receive a green card. If his money creates the necessary jobs within two years, he and his family are eligible for permanent visas. The American Greetings brand is known worldwide, so the fund feels that attracting investors won’t be a problem.

The Brooklyn, Ohio-based company will also receive as much as $93.5 million in tax credits, loans and other incentives from the state of Ohio over 15 years. Part of the money will go to the construction project. It will also receive infrastructure improvements and tax breaks from the city of Westlake.

American Greetings plans to bring 1,750 full-time workers, with a payroll of $155 million, to Westlake. Another 750 permanent jobs will be created by the additional retail on the first floor of the facility, with 2,500 construction workers needed to build the complex. The company expects to move into its new headquarters in 2014.