Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hoist Lifts Boat Business with Recovery Zone Plan Bonds; Federal Stimulus Made $25 Billion in Tax-Exempt Bond Authority Available

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hoist Lifts Boat Business with Recovery Zone Plan Bonds; Federal Stimulus Made $25 Billion in Tax-Exempt Bond Authority Available

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

The new movable boat hoist at North Florida Shipyards in Jacksonville has done more than take vessels from the water and carry them onto land for dry-dock repairs.

The hoist has given North Florida Shipyards a much-needed lift for business.

"Our business had slacked off," said Robert Wilson, vice president and chief financial officer. "What this has done is pick it back up. We've been able to maintain, whereas otherwise we would have had to lay off."

North Florida Shipyards used federal "recovery zone" bonds to help get $4 million in low-interest loans for the $7.5 million boat hoist project.

So far, it's the only Jacksonville business that has taken advantage of the recovery zone bonds, part of a nationwide program launched in 2009 to stimulate the economy.

The deadline for businesses to get into the program is approaching fast - the bonds must be issued before Jan. 1 to qualify for the tax-exempt status that lowers the cost of borrowing for businesses. Jacksonville has used just a fraction of the recovery zone bonds the federal government has authorized for private and government projects in the city.

Lindsey Ballas, business development chief for the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, said it's still possible more businesses will use the program.

"We really hope so," she said. "We've gotten some nibbles."

The federal government made $25 billion in tax-exempt bond authority available nationwide for recovery zones, a program created by the economic stimulus package signed by President Obama in early 2009. The Jacksonville City Council designated the city's recovery zone as much of Northwest Jacksonville, the Northbank of downtown, Imeson Industrial Park, Jacksonville International Airport area, a segment of Philips Highway, and Cecil Commerce Center.

Jacksonville's share of the bonding authority was $24.5 million for private businesses and $16.3 million that can be used for government-funded construction, job training and education. …

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