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Get A Game Plan Louisiana Accountability & Transparency
State Awards Nearly $22 Million to 11 Economic Development Projects in Hurricane-Affected Communities

Funding supports the creation of 597 jobs

 

May 23, 2011

BATON ROUGE, La. - The state Office of Community Development - Disaster Recovery Unit has awarded $21.8 million worth of recovery funding to 11 economic development projects, creating hundreds of jobs in communities affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The Project-Based Recovery Opportunity Program (PROP) provides direct low-interest loans ranging from $500,000 to $5 million at a minimum one percent annual interest rate. PROP builds on previous rounds of recovery funded targeted to small businesses and aims to create new jobs in areas affected by these storms. The program is funded with Community Development Block Grants awarded to Louisiana by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for hurricane recovery.

Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater said, "Our communities cannot fully recover from the recent disasters without private industry investing in the state and growing their businesses to create jobs. Disaster recovery resources will be leveraged through these Project-Based Recovery Opportunity Program awards to create 597 jobs across the areas affected by the hurricanes, which will encourage investment and spur long-term job creation."

The first round of grant funding will support 11 projects, with additional grant awards forthcoming. The deadline for applications was March 31, 2011.

The full list of awardees is below:

World War II Museum - awarded $5 million

  • Requested funds to help with a $60 million expansion called the campaigns pavilion that is part of a $300 million master plan.

St. Margaret's at Mercy Hospital - awarded $3.5 million

  • Funding will transform the historic, but blighted, former Lindy Boggs and Catholic Sisters of Mercy Medical Center in Mid City New Orleans, into an interdisciplinary campus comprising of a 116-bed skilled nursing home, a 290,000 square foot facility for specialty surgery, out-patient services and commercial space.
  • The project will create jobs within the biomedical sector, as well as preserve the historic character of Mercy Hospital and mission of providing quality medical care for indigent and needy. The agency was located in the Lower 9th Ward and had been serving elderly citizens since 1931 before its facility was destroyed by Katrina.
  • St. Margaret's is currently operating out of a temporary facility in the Upper 9th on St. Claude. The PROP funds will be used in Phase 1 to leverage New Market Tax Credits and State Historic Tax Credits to renovate the campus and any new construction. The project will establish a level of affordable, quality elderly nursing home care that has not existed since Katrina and that it will help serve as a catalyst for development of the city's biomedical district.

Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans - awarded $2.5 million

  • PROP funding will pay to construct a fresh/healthy food production facility that would provide affordably priced hot meals, box lunches and catering services to a broad range of customers, including non-profit service providers, schools, offices and employers in the central core of New Orleans. This will merge the group's three food preparation locations into one and will expand its operations to allow for high growth.
  • The program will also include an eight-week culinary arts training program offered to teach students a variety of healthy food preparation skills, knife skills, kitchen economics and operations.

St. Thomas Community Health Center - awarded $2 million

  • The St. Thomas Community Health Center, a non-profit health care provider that targets underinsured citizens in Orleans Parish, will use PROP funds to renovate a building near its current location to expand and improve its current services.

Hope Services, Inc. - awarded $1.875 million

  • Hope Services, a marine vessel fabricator and repair business, will use PROP funding to build a dry dock at its Dulac shipyard in Terrebonne Parish. A floating dry dock will expand and enhance the shipyard's repair and new construction business.

Rhodes Business Center - awarded $1.5 million

  • Rhodes Commercial Development, LLC, will use PROP funds to renovate an old car dealership on Broad Street in New Orleans into retail and commercial office space.

Carver Theatre - awarded $1.25 million

  • PROP funds will be used to redevelop the Old Carver Theatre in the Treme Neighborhood in New Orleans into a live performance & recording/teaching venue for aspiring musicians. Ultimately, the new facility will be able to host a wide range of events, including performances by jazz bands and off Broadway shows.

Kimble Development - awarded $1.4 million

  • Kimble Development in St. Mary Parish will use PROP funds for the revitalization of St Mary Plaza, including renovation of the shopping center and the purchase and installation of coolers, shelving and cash registers to operate a grocery store. The developer aims to bring in a major grocery retailer to the shopping center, as the nearest grocery store is 30 minutes away.

Guitar Partners, LLC - awarded $1 million

  • Guitar Partners, LLC will purchase the 82-year leasehold interest of the Chateau Bourbon by Wyndham Hotel on Canal Street in New Orleans and transform it into a Hyatt Hotel through extensive renovation and rebranding. The funds will be used to help in this transformation.

Community Green Project - $1 million

  • Green Coast Enterprises will use PROP funds to help redevelop the intersection of Washington and Broad in New Orleans. GCE has assembled four parcels at this intersection and will redevelop three structures to house a community health center, bakery, warehouse and office space.

Jacquet Construction - awarded $800,000

  • Jacquet Construction will use PROP funds to complete renovation of existing structures on acquired land at 9511 Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans into habitable office and retail space.

PROP awards were open for both for-profit and non-profit organizations, as well as community development financial institutions and community-based economic development organizations located in Acadia, Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, Iberia, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Lafourche, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Vermilion or Washington parishes.

The PROP program gave priority to projects that:

  • Establish a new business location or expand a current location in an eligible parish, with expansion defined as improvements to facilities, operations or personnel;
  • Create a minimum number of jobs per project as determined by industry standards;
  • Show minimum annual gross revenue of $250,000;
  • Have a private investment of at least 10 percent of total project costs; and
  • Limit CDBG funding through this program to 75 percent or less of total project costs (previous Business Recovery Grant and Loan awards were not considered).

Additionally, PROP emphasized projects that create opportunities for new small businesses, or for those that: are at least 51 percent owned by a female or minority; preserve historic structures; provide an essential service to a recovering neighborhood; can demonstrate community support; create jobs above the program-required minimum for workers with lower incomes; or have a positive repayment history with the state's Office of Community Development.

PROP builds on the two successful earlier phases of the Business Recovery Grant and Loan program. Created in February 2007, Phase I of the BRGL provided more than $85 million in grants and interest-free loans to more than 3,600 small businesses impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Eligibility for the program was expanded in 2008 during Phase II, which provided an additional $62.5 million in grants and loans to more than 770 severely impacted businesses.

The Disaster Recovery Unit within the Office of Community Development is dedicated to helping Louisiana's citizens recover from hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. As the state's central point for hurricane recovery, the OCD-DRU manages the most extensive rebuilding effort in American history, working closely with local, state and federal partners to ensure that Louisiana recovers safer and stronger than before.

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