March 30, 2011 Edition

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Intermodal authority
discusses bond issue

George Jared
Sun Staff Writer

A regional board may seek a public industrial development bond to fund a project that would bring a railroad tie plant to Lawrence County.

The Northeast Arkansas Regional Intermodal Facilities Authority heard from Jack Truemper, a senior vice president with Stephens Inc., a Little Rock firm that advises on bond issues, during the authority's annual meeting on Thursday in Pocahontas.

Truemper gave some general information about what companies can benefit from a bond.

"It can't be a service business," Truemper said. "It has to be some kind of manufacturer."

Cost estimates to build a facility for Integrated Renewable Resources LLC are still being formulated, officials said. Should the authority seek an industrial bond, the state could ensure up to $11 million of the bond if certain requirements are met, Truemper said.

But state agencies such as the Arkansas Economic Development Commission would put the bond proposal through a rigorous test that would include a thorough examination of the company's finances. Established companies always have an advantage over start-ups, Truemper said.

Public bonds are rarely used to finance an industrial park because many companies buy the bonds used to finance their projects and then never go public, he said.

A governmental entity would have to apply for the public industrial development bond, Truemper said. The authority might qualify as a governmental entity, but Truemper said he wasn't sure.

Other business

Entergy and NARIFA officials have met within the last month to discuss how much it will cost to build a substation for the proposed railroad tie plant, according to Jerry Kelso, spokesman for Crafton Tull and Sparks, the authority's engineering firm.

Last week Kelso said he spoke with Gov. Mike Beebe about NARIFA and its progress.

"The governor said he's excited about the project and offered to help in anyway he could," Kelso said.

Authority members also voted Thursday to appoint Don King of Hoxie to the executive committee.

(Note: This article is reprinted with permission from The Jonesboro Sun.)

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