Midwest disaster funds boost CRST project

Cedar Rapids trucking firm's project among last to be funded through flood recovery program

A Cedar Rapids project will be among the last to get low-interest funding under a federal program adopted to help Midwest communities recover from 2008's flood.

Linn County supervisors on Wednesday approved issuing $17.5 million worth of Midwestern Disaster Area Revenue Bonds for CRST International's planned new headquarters in southwest Cedar Rapids.

The supervisors' action means CRST will be able to finance its project at a lower interest rate because the 2008 federal law allows the bonds ' buyers a tax exemption on interest earned from them. The bonds ' purchasers pass along their tax-break savings as the lower interest rate.

Tax-exempt bonds are usually reserved for public projects, but the federal legislation allowed state and local governments to issue them for a wide range of private borrowing in counties declared presidential disaster areas in 2008.

CRST's project is among the last to draw on Iowa's $2.6 billion in bonding authority granted by Congress. Nearly half the state's allocation, $1.1 billion worth, went to an Egyptian conglomerate's fertilizer plant planned for Wever in Lee County.

Two projects in Waterloo and Eddyville also planning funding through the program, according to Iowa Finance Authority spokeswoman Ashley Jared. The finance authority administers the program in Iowa.

Among the area projects funded through the program are PCI's medical mall in Cedar Rapids ($21.5 million), True North's renovation of the former public library for its new offices ($5 million), and Backpocket Brewing's Coralville facility ($5.4 million).

CRST announced plans last March for a 65,000-square-foot headquarters expansion on 18 acres at 16th Avenue and Wiley Boulevard SW. Company officials haven't returned calls seeking an update on the project.Projects funded through Iowa's Midwest Disaster Area Bonds 2009-2012.

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