The Louisiana State Bond Commission today will review details of a new federal program that will make available more than $381 million of tax-free debt for businesses in 16 parishes in the southern part of the state that suffered damages from Hurricane Ike in September.

The federally authorized bonds are similar to the Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds authorized by Congress after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. However, proceeds from the new bonds can be used only to rebuild uninsured losses, with no new construction allowed.

The bond program was enacted as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, the $700 billion economic bailout package approved by Congress in October. The bonds must be issued by Dec. 31, 2010.

The economic stabilization bonds are available to businesses in the parishes of Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafourche, Plaquemines, Sabine, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Terrebonne, Vermilion, and Vernon.

The state’s allocation is based on $2,000 multiplied by the total population of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes. Texas also received an allocation of the bonds, based on the total population of Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, and Orange counties.

Businesses seeking an allocation of the bonds must document losses resulting from Ike.

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