Posted: Dec 6, 2010 3:17 PM
BATON ROUGE - When Congress set up a tax-free recovery bond program after hurricanes Katrina and Rita to help spur private business development, applications poured in and it appeared demand would far exceed Louisiana's $7.8 billion bond capacity.
Now, as the Gulf Opportunity Zone bond program is weeks from expiration, state officials are racing to hand out the final dollars in the program. A bit less than $200 million remains to be allocated before the program must end Dec. 31.
Officials also are acknowledging that the tight timeline and a credit crunch left some of the most heavily damaged parishes unable to capitalize on the program.
The bonds are available to projects in 31 hurricane-impacted parishes. GO Zone projects are given a special borrowing status so businesses can borrow money more cheaply. The State Bond Commission
determines who gets the GO Zone bond designation.