Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

County approves use of federal stimulus money for sports complex

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By Jeff Schultz

A federal program allowing counties to make low-interest business loans could be instrumental in the development of an indoor sports complex proposed for the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and the Indiana Toll Road in Chesterton.

At their Sept. 7 meeting, the Porter County Commissioners approved an allocation of $8.5 million in recovery-zone bonds available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) of 2009.

The act enables businesses like the sports complex developers—Portage-based Persistence LLC—to borrow money at a low interest rate, said John Shepherd, who directs the Porter County Redevelopment Commission.

The complex would be one of the first in the nation to be built using loans from the ARRA money.

The commissioners in April voted to declare the county a “recovery zone” in order to access subsidies through the ARRA act.

Shepherd said the subsidy is very much like a traditional industrial revenue bond, although it is officially referred to as a recovery zone bond.

The commissioners, who also form the county redevelopment commission, allocated the $8.5 million to Persistence LLC, which must now go before the Chesterton Economic Development Commission.

Shepherd said that once Persistence LLC has its bond commitments, those bonds would be bundled and then assigned to the Chesterton EDC, which would act as bond administrator.

Shepherd emphasized that local taxpayers are in no way on the hook for the bonds.

“They’re private bonds,” he said. “It will not be a debt to Chesterton if they decide to use the money.”

Developers can also ask other counties for Recovery Act subsidies, and on Tuesday Persistence LLC received a commitment of $6.8 million from the LaPorte County Commissioners.

Shepherd said he believes Persistence LLC is currently lining up about $40 million for the indoor sports complex.

A new hotel has also been proposed as part of the development.


Posted 10/8/2010




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