The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation has asked federal legislators to forgive local governments that owe disaster loan repayments and extend the expiration date of Gulf Opportunity Zone Bond financing.
In a letter to Sens. David Vitter and Mary Landrieu and Congressman Steve Scalise, EDF Executive Director Brenda Reine-Bertus asked the lawmakers to take necessary federal action to extend the GO Zone funding timetable and to waive repayment requirements from parish and municipal governments that accessed federal funds in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
The letter reads, in part, “Funds have been allocated that have not yet been tapped and, due to the timelines involved in bringing many projects to fruition, may remain untapped as the deadline approaches. An extension of the deadline for activation of GO Zone Bonds would be a significant boost to the Louisiana economy and to many businesses here in St. Tammany Parish.”
While observing that St. Tammany’s economy has not been as severely impacted as other communities by the recent national downturn, Reine-Bertus also acknowledged that local economics are not immune from global trends.
Additionally, she wrote that local governments have faced a decline in sales tax revenue and the results of an unstable real estate market, and that forgiveness of federal loans to local governments would ease the burden and ensure a continuity of services for citizens.
“Forgiveness of these loans by the federal government will ensure that local governments can remain solvent, providing essential services that maintain our infrastructure and quality of life – two key components in attracting and retaining businesses,” the letter reads.
“Our federal delegation is as important as our Baton Rouge-based lawmakers in enabling us to serve a growing economy,” Reine-Bertus said. “Senators Vitter and Landrieu have always taken a big-picture approach to addressing our economic needs, and we have the utmost confidence in Congressman Scalise as he begins his first full term. We’re optimistic our legislators will be able to assist local industry and government in addressing these needs.”
STEDF is the lead economic development organization for St. Tammany charged with attracting new business and employment opportunities to St. Tammany. The organization seeks to improve the quality of life in the parish by strengthening and supporting the business climate in the area.