AUGUSTA — A visa program to stimulate business has been approved for western Maine.

State and federal officials today said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security authorized a regional center in Rangeley to coordinate foreign investment and new job creation as part of the EB-5 employment-based visa program.

Under the program, a potential immigrant can apply for a U.S. visa by agreeing to invest at least $500,000 in an American business that creates at least 10 new jobs directly or indirectly for U.S. workers.

Franklin County and Livermore Falls are included in the special designation, said George Gervais, commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Christopher Farmer, USA Lifestyles president and Saddleback general manager, said at a State House press conference that new investments will be allowed in ski lodges and resorts, testing laboratories, wood products manufacturing, restaurants, those who lease nonresidential buildings, museums and construction.

“Growing up in Franklin County, I watched hundreds of good quality manufacturing jobs disappear from the area, leaving the state for foreign lands,” Farmer said. “This is a unique opportunity to bring investment dollars back from those areas to Franklin County and create good paying long-term jobs.”