Burke Mountain Ski Area,by Hilary Niles vtdigger.org(link is external) Jay Peak’s developers announced at a hotel groundbreaking in Burke on Tuesday afternoon that their proposed biotechnology plant in Newport had gained a key federal approval.The news that the Newport project had won EB-5 approval further buoyed the optimism on Burke Mountain, where planned expansions have been pushed back due to delays in the same immigrant investor program that will fund the proposed AnC Bio facility. Q Burke Resort’s 180,000-square-foot hotel is slated to open in December 2015, along with an aquatic center and tennis facility. Construction will commence next spring or summer. Two more hotels, adding another 116 units to the mountain, are set to follow.Dirt flies at a groundbreaking ceremony for Q Burke Resort’s 180,000-square-foot hotel, which is slated to open in December 2015. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDiggerAnC Bio’s federal stamp of approval is still fresh. Jay Peak owner Ariel Quiros and partial owner Bill Stenger said they got the news Monday night. Designs and state and local permitting for the facility already are underway.Both the ski area and biotech projects, as well as ongoing buildout at Jay Peak and still more plans for downtown Newport, are funded through the federal Immigrant Investor Program, known as EB-5 for the employment-based visa it affords.The group is also spearheading development of the Newport State Airport in Coventry, through private investment.Through the EB-5 program, would-be immigrants invest $1 million — or $500,000 for Vermont projects — in companies poised to create at least 10 jobs worth of American economic activity. If all goes as planned, subsequent conditional visas are transformed to green cards in two years for investors and their immediate family members.Q Burke owner Ariel Quiros (left) is joined by Gov. Peter Shumlin and Quiros’ son, Ary, at a groundbreaking ceremony for Q Burke Resort’s new hotel. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger“We all know job creation is what Vermont’s future quality of life is dependent on,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, who along with Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., an aide for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and others, took shovels in hand to commemorate the groundbreaking at Q Burke Resorts on Tuesday.“But it is easier done in some areas of the state than in others,” Shumlin said.He lauded the development of Burke Mountain, Jay Peak and Newport as anchors that help locals from the Northeast Kingdom stay in the area and thrive.Q Burke president and CEO Ary Quiros, the son of owner Ariel Quiros, asked about two dozen mountain staffers to join the groundbreaking ceremony. He noted their contributions to achieving financial stability for the long-struggling resort’s (link is external)operations.Stenger, in turn, expressed gratitude for support from local, state and federal officials for support of the team’s many projects and for the EB-5 program. Its current pilot stage expires in 2015, and developers around the country with ongoing and potential projects are advocating for it to gain permanent status.Stenger said Jay Peak’s integrated set of developments, dubbed the Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative, would not be possible without the “patient capital” the EB-5 program provides.But to date, serial scandals have plagued the program, causing the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to step up oversight.EB-5 projects around the country have reported delays similar to that experienced by AnC Bio, which Ariel Quiros intends to open as a biotechnology manufacturing facility and a block of high-tech clean rooms for lease to commercial interests and researchers.Investors in the project have waited months while their visa applications remained under scrutiny(link is external) pending review of associated business plans.AnC Bio’s new green light indicates USCIS approval of the business and its job creation projections. But Q Burke’s first hotel has yet to receive the same thumbs-up from USCIS.Project manager Alex MacLean said the team is confident it will obtain the approval and secure the remaining investments needed to complete the project as planned.Burke Mountain Academy director Kirk Dwyer, who also threw dirt for the ceremony, said the mountain could not have come under more qualified ownership and management. He emphasized that his elite ski school’s existence depends on the presence and financial stability of the ski area.