[StBernard] Bond Commission Approves Millions in GO Zone Bonds for Hurricane Recovery

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Wed Oct 24 23:12:25 EDT 2007

Bond Commission Approves Millions in GO Zone Bonds for Hurricane Recovery
Allocations Include $514.5 Million for New Orleans Recovery Projects

BATON ROUGE, LA (October 24, 2007)- Today the Louisiana State Bond Commission approved GO Zone bond allocations for numerous economic development projects that will support hurricane recovery throughout South Louisiana, including $514.5 million for commercial and civic projects in New Orleans that have high recovery value.

These are the first allocations the Commission has approved since adopting a formula at the request of Governor Kathleen Blanco, the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the City of New Orleans and others to reserve GO Zone Bonds for the hurricane impacted areas. Parish "set-asides" are now determined according to a formula based on housing and infrastructure damages in the 13 most severely impacted parishes.

"By acting to set aside GO Zone bonds for the most impacted areas, the State Bond Commission is helping to ensure that these critical recovery funds are going where they are most needed," said LRA Chairman Dr. Norman Francis. "The allocations approved by the Commission today will act as catalysts for physical and economic redevelopment in New Orleans, and I applaud them for taking these important steps that will no doubt enhance the long term recovery and growth of our region."

According to the recovery-based formula, New Orleans received a set-aside of $1.2 billion in bonds. Based on the City's recommendations, the Bond Commission approved project applications totaling $514.5 million in bonds. This includes allocations for neighborhood grocery stores and expanded drug treatment and shelter facilities for the homeless and those with addictive disorders.

"The City of New Orleans is committed to ensuring that the public and private sectors work in sync in rebuilding our city's neighborhoods and critical economic sectors," says Dr. Edward Blakely, Executive Director of the Office of Recovery Management for the City of New Orleans. "The awarding of these tax-exempt, low-interest bonds, once in place, will jump start many projects that will help revitalize New Orleans neighborhoods and the Downtown."

Over $700 million in bonds set aside for New Orleans projects remain, along with a $2 billion "competitive pool" that New Orleans projects can vie for along with projects from other eligible Parishes.

In December, 2005, Congress authorized $7.8 billion in "GO Zone bonds" that are available to private business ventures in 31 parishes affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Private applicants must seek out the bonds through a local bond issuer, which submits the application to the local government and Bond Commission for further review.

At the request of LRA and the Bond Commission, the City of New Orleans developed and used ten recovery-based criteria to identify those project applications from New Orleans that are based on or consistent with the City's economic development and recovery plans.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated South Louisiana, claiming 1,464 lives, destroying more than 200,000 homes and 18,000 businesses. The Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA) is the planning and coordinating body that was created in the aftermath of these storms by Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco to lead one of the most extensive rebuilding efforts in the world. The LRA is a 33-member body which is coordinating across jurisdictions, supporting community recovery and resurgence, ensuring integrity and effectiveness, and planning for the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana.

New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin created the Office of Recovery Management in January. Led by Executive Director of Recovery Management Dr. Edward Blakely, the Office of Recovery Management is responsible for the development and implementation of recovery plans and strategies for the City of New Orleans. The Office has developed the Citywide Strategic Recovery and Redevelopment Plan -- the people's plan -- based on the Unified New Orleans Plan. It focuses initial public assets on 17 strategic recovery areas.


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