Wisconsin Pools Stimulus Bonds

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Wisconsin is moving to make use of $238 million in economic development bonding provided under the federal stimulus program. Gov. Jim Doyle recently signed legislation enabling the state to pool its federal recovery zone bonds to fund job-creation projects statewide. “By pooling these resources together, we will make sure we take full advantage of this opportunity and move forward job-creating projects across the state,” Gov. Doyle said.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, counties and local governments are authorized to issue tax-exempt conduit bonds, known as Recovery Zone Facility Bonds, for private-sector economic development projects. However, since the funds allocated to Wisconsin were divided among the state’s 72 counties (as well as the cities of Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay), most counties did not have a large enough allocation to make tax-exempt financing for economic development cost effective.

The legislation enacted in Wisconsin automatically waives unobligated Recovery Zone Facility Bonds into one statewide pool. Authorization for the bonds expires Dec. 31, 2010.

“It was vital that this provision become law quickly so that shovel-ready projects can move forward and the bond allocations won’t go to waste,” state Sen. Julie Lassa, a co-author of the bill, told the Business Journal of Milwaukee.

The signing of the bill will fund projects like Energy Composite Corp.’s proposed wind turbine blade manufacturing plant in Wisconsin Rapids, projected to create 600 jobs. Under the new law, Energy Composite will be able to apply for bonds from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for the multi-million dollar expansion. Gov. Doyle signed the legislation in a ceremony in Wisconsin Rapids.

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