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County OKs economic recovery bonds

Post Time:Dec 08,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:263

ST. GEORGE - In an effort to stimulate the local economy and create jobs, the Washington County Comm-ission approved a resolution Tuesday that would allow more than $20 million in economic recovery bonds.

Glass manufacturing company Viracon was approved for a bond of up to $12 million for new equipment and manufacturing systems and the city of St. George was approved for a bond of up to $11 million for costs related to the new airport.

The economic recovery bonds are the first issued by the county after it was declared an economic recovery zone by the federal government and received close to $100 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for bonds tied to economic development.

"Viracon was very appealing because it provides funding for additional equipment," said Scott Hirschi, director of the county's economic development council. "That means more jobs and it also helps cement their presence in St. George."

Hirschi, who also sits on the debt review committee tasked with reviewing and recommending projects to the commission for recovery bond approval, added that Viracon estimates more than 130 jobs would be created with the help of the bond.

"If that happens, then without question, this will be a success," he said.

St. George City Manager Gary Esplin said Viracon is a prime example of how effective the recovery act can be.

"That is exactly what this act was for," he said. "To help with development of new facilities to increase employment."

County Commission Chairman James Eardley said Washington County was hurting more than any other Utah county and the commission was happy to do whatever it could to help create jobs and strengthen the economy.

"St. George was right on the big housing bubble that burst," he said. "We've been impacted the most in the state."

The county may have approved the bonds, but it won't be the one lending the money. Instead, the county will work as a conduit that passes the government's tax-exempt status onto the holder of the bonds. That results in businesses being able to borrow money at a lower interest rate, enticing them to expand operations and create jobs.

Though Viracon and the city of St. George have been the only two entities to apply for the bonds, Hirschi said it's not likely that they'll be the only ones to benefit from the bonds.

"At least a dozen representatives of projects have contacted me," he said. "There's a great deal of interest."

Source: www.thespectrum.comAuthor: shangyi

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