The Arizona Department of Commerce last week awarded authorizations lottery-style for $29.7 million of federal recovery zone facility bonds to three private-activity projects after local governments in the state could not find qualified recipients for the tax-exempt economic stimulus bonds.

The authorizations included $17.7 million of the bonds for a cement plant north of Prescott, $6 million for a dairy near Gila Bend, and a $6 million for a paint plant in south Phoenix.

Commerce officials drew paper squares from a basket to determine which of the three projects would have first call on the available debt capacity.

Three other projects asked for bonds, but could not meet eligibility requirements.

Applicants for the bonds had to have the projects endorsed by the local industrial development authority, provide proof that the bonds would be sold, and pledge to fulfill all state and federal guidelines for debt issuance.

The bonds were part of the $225 million of capacity provided to the state by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Five cities and five counties turned back $78 million of the bonds to the state because they could not find projects that could get under construction quickly.  The other eight cities and seven counties that received bonds for projects must issue the debt by Jan. 1.

Tiffany Frechette, the Commerce Department’s business development finance director, said Arizona does not plan another lottery for the remaining $48 million of the state’s stimulus bond capacity.

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