A great deal of advance planning must happen before a Regional Center can be designated by USCIS. Feasibility studies, market surveys & forecasts, as applicable, as well as Matter of Ho compliant business plans and "reasonable" economic analyses need to be written to meet the EB-5 legal requirements.
In addition to the EB-5 laws, there are many other items that need proper attention. Then there are all those standard business transaction documents such as partnership agreements, the Offering Instrument (often a Private Placement Memorandum or PPM), operational and organizational documents and State filings for registrations, permits and licenses etc..., depending on the type of project, an Environmental Impact Statement and Mitigation Plans may be required. Most industries are regulated in their own right (OSHA, sanitation in food processing and restaurants, pollution standards in factories, etc...). There are TONS of expenses and costs incurred in advance of any potential profits from the completed investment.
An Entrepreneur could do it all by himself but it would cost an arm and a leg.
The Regional Center can do all that advance planning & compliance and the costs can be recouped from the EB-5 and domestic investors. It was made clear in the 1998 AAO Precedent Decision: Matter of Izummi that these costs cannot be deducted from the required minimum investment amount of $1 million or $500,000. The "subscription" "management" "administration" or "whatever you call it" FEE needs to be separate from the principle investment capital amount. This is normal and fully legally and ethically supported. The actual amount does vary based on the specifics of the individual project. I have seen fees range from $10,000 to $100,00 per investor. You need to ask what the fees cover. If they charge too little, they may not have done enough advance planning. If they charge too much, you might be being taken advantage of. Whatever the actual dollar figure, make sure it is justified without being excessive. Does the Regional Center intend to file Exemplar I-526s (as I-924 Amendments) for each specific project as an added measure of predictability on the potential for success at the I-829 stage? What mechanisms are in place for the tracking of the required data and evidence for the future required I-829? Cheapskates may be missing something while the alternative extreme may be bleeding you dry. Do your own Due Diligence on the Regional Center.
The general administration fee in addition to the minimum $500,000 investment amount for a Regional Center average is about $50,000.
Silver Surfer has provided an excellent summary of the legal need for and purpose of the Administrative Fee. I only add that the typical fee that we see ranges from between $35,000 and $55,000 at this time, although there are certainly projects which charge more or less, depending on the size, scope and scale of the project.