Will Floating Cities Help Revive a Sinking Economy?

You know the economy is bad when it’s easier to start a business not just overseas, but in the sea. The idea that’s been floating around for a while by two entrepreneurs is to have a city out in the ocean twelve miles off the coast of California in international waters, outside U.S. jurisdiction. Blueseed is the name of their venture, and they’re slated to open up for business in a little over a year’s time. They’re looking mainly for tech startup companies since they’re about a thirty-minute commute by ferry from Silicon Valley. Each business that sets up shop there will give Blueseed 6% to 6.5% of their equity, and residents will pay anywhere between $1,200 and $3,000 a month for rent, depending on their budgets.

Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija, the two Blueseed founders, both have immigrant parents. They saw how difficult it was for immigrants to start a business here in the U.S. with all the immigration red tape. Of course, starting a business these days is difficult for anyone, not just immigrants. Even U.S. citizens sometimes have to leave the country in order to start a business and create jobs overseas somewhere, which doesn’t really help our economy. If an immigrant wants to invest in a business here without going through the long citizenship process, that person would have to apply for an EB-5 work visa, which generally requires a one-million-dollar investment and the guarantee that ten people will be hired within two years of the investor’s admission to the U.S. as a Conditional Permanent Resident. Blueseed offers a way around these restrictions so that anybody around the world can come and start a business or work without visa requirements. If foreigners wanted to visit the mainland, they could easily acquire a business/travel visa, which would allow them to visit up to 180 days per year.

Blueseed isn’t just about helping out immigrants though. According to their website, they will be helping the U.S. economy by creating jobs for Americans:

“[E]xisting firms are net job destroyers, losing 1 million jobs net combined per year. By contrast, in their first year, new firms add an average of 3 million jobs. These new firms include startups created by entrepreneurs. Blueseed brings to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, who by definition, start companies and create jobs… The majority of the startup companies hosted by Blueseed will create new high-paying jobs. These jobs would otherwise exist either outside the U.S. or, in many cases, not at all, because federal immigration restrictions make it very difficult for foreign startups to locate in the U.S.”

In addition to the American startup companies taking root there and the American jobs being created as a result, there will also be a demand for Americans to work as vessel crew, ferry operators, insurance agents, and legal advisors. They will also create more demand for fresh food, water, and fuel for all the passengers. Since passengers will be visiting the mainland frequently, they will be spending money there too. Once the startups have gone beyond “startup” and are successful–too large to be headquartered on a ship–they can move to the mainland.

Who knows if it will actually succeed, but I think it’s a creative idea and certainly better than anything Obama or the Fed have done to “create jobs” or “spur growth.”