Cook County President Todd Stroger yesterday announced that up to $197 million of recovery zone facility bonds are available to private businesses to finance a range of capital projects.

The county, which will act as conduit issuer for the bonds, plans to reserve at least 30% of the $197 million for projects in areas with below-median income or unemployment rates above 8.7%, county officials said.

County officials will evaluate applications based on several criteria, including the number of jobs created by the project, the location, and a commitment to meet county laws, such as the living-wage ordinance and legislation related to child support issues.

Bonds must be issued before Dec. 31, 2010.

Recovery zone facility bonds are tax-exempt private-activity bonds created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Proceeds from the bonds can finance a range of capital projects in areas that are considered distressed. Issuers receive a federal subsidy that equals 45% of interest costs for the bonds.

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