Ky. transpark struggling in weak economy

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) - A southern Kentucky transpark is
running short of money and officials say it may need to rely on
public funds to pay it's debt obligations later in the year.
The Inter-Modal Transportation Authority in Bowling Green owes a
principal payment of $1.2 million on the bonds used to create the
Kentucky TriModal Transpark.
ITA President Jim Hizer told The Bowling Green Daily News that
if the debt associated with the $27.4 million general-obligation
bond isn't renegotiated, Warren County and the city may have to
kick in funds to keep the park afloat during a rough economic
stretch.
The six-year-old transpark integrates rail, air and highway
transportation around a mix of commercial and industrial
activities. Supporters say it could generate up to 7,550 jobs. The
park relies on land sales and wage assessments on jobs in the
transpark to pay its debt
So far, the ITA has contributed about $6.9 million toward paying
off its debt.
"I have every confidence we will get the general-obligation
bond refinanced," Hizer said.
Since the general-obligation bond was approved in 2007, state
officials passed legislation extending the amount of time the ITA
can use wage assessments - a 1.5 percent tax on jobs in the
transpark - to pay its debt.
Officials are looking to refinance the existing bond so "we
could delay (the principal payment) a little bit longer and allow
the revenue stream to build up and grow," said Jeff Meisel,
Bowling Green chief financial officer. But "the main interest is
to take advantage of that provision the state put in there last
summer," which extends the wage assessment tax.
Meisel said he does not know what the refinanced bond's interest
rate will be.
About $40 million has been used to develop the transpark. Along
with the bond, the development is funded by state government and
private money.
Out of about 900 acres, 250 have been sold. The transpark houses
three private companies, America Howa Kentucky, Cannon Automotive
Solutions and Bowling Green Metalforming, with a total of about
1,000 employees.
"In spite of what's been going on in the economy, we're holding
our own," Hizer said. "I have every confidence that client
activity is going to pick up toward the end of the year."
Park officials are hoping a new $4 million, 7,100-foot rail spur
through the complex, along with the completion of
72,000-square-feet of facilities built on speculation, will help
bring more tenants.
"If you have a client decide they need to be on rail, they're
only going to look at rail-served sites," Hizer said.
The $1.6 million new building was funded by the Bowling Green
Economic Development Area Authority, a private organization that
generates its assets from real estate transactions, Hizer said.
Ultimately, officials hope the transpark will bring about 10,000
jobs to the area.
"It is our crown jewel development in south-central Kentucky,"
Hizer said.
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Information from: Daily News, http://www.bgdailynews.com

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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