Erik Buell Racing LLC of East Troy will receive $20 million in new investments that will help the company expand production of EBR brand sport motorcycles and create about 200 new jobs.
Investment fund manager FirstPathway Partners LLC announced it has committed $20 million in EB-5 investment funding to Buell.
The funding will allow EBR to design and produce additional models of street sport motorcycles and to significantly grow its international exports. EBR also will expand its facility.
"This investment in a growing American company is what the EB-5 program is all about," said Bob Kraft, chairman, chief executive officer and founding partner of FirstPathway Partners. "EBR motorcycles are made in America and in great demand worldwide. This investment will create good manufacturing and engineering jobs in Wisconsin for skilled American workers and greatly strengthen a local company's position in the global marketplace."
The federal EB-5 program, put in place in 1990 through a bipartisan effort, allows foreign nationals seeking U.S. residency and citizenship to make financial investments and create jobs in select U.S. markets.
The seven-county southeastern Wisconsin region is one of the oldest Midwest investment areas for the EB-5 program, which has investors from Denmark, Brazil, China, South Korea, Hungary, Mexico, Russia and other nations worldwide.
Erik Buell, founder and owner of the company that bears his name, is a pioneer in the world of racing motorcycle technology. A former Harley-Davidson Inc. engineer, he started a company – Buell Motorcycle Company, which later became a subsidiary of Harley-Davidson – in 1983. In 2009, Harley ended the Buell line to focus on its own brand.
Buell launched Erik Buell Racing later that year. The company produces high-end, limited-edition street motorcycles under the EBR brand, provides engineering design services, and also runs a race team sponsored by Hero MotoCorp and AMSOIL.
"EB-5 investment funding through FirstPathway Partners is a key part of the financing structure which will allow our company to expand its product line by developing and introducing a broad line of world-class street motorcycles at lower price points than our current products," Buell said. "Our research shows a very strong global market for this kind of motorcycle, and this funding will allow motorcycles designed and assembled right here in East Troy to be used in China, India, Europe – all over the world. It's a great boost not only for our company, but also for Wisconsin's exports and American business as a whole."
Erik Buell Racing will do all design, testing and assembly work in East Troy and plans to focus a substantial portion of its spending on Wisconsin, Midwest and American vendors, although many highly specialized motorcycle parts will be sourced overseas. The company anticipates exporting more than half of its products within three or four years.
"This is a wonderful opportunity to re-establish metro Milwaukee as the small engine capital of the world," Kraft said. "The investment in EBR will create good jobs locally and spread the word globally about high-quality, American made products. EBR is the only American-made, high-performance sport motorcycle on the market – it competes, and competes very well, with companies like Kawasaki, Honda, BMW, Ducati and other racing icons. EB-5 investment funding will provide a big boost to this promising local company and strengthen the southeast Wisconsin region. We are honored to be part of this important initiative."