Receive economic development bonds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Two Northeastern Wisconsin tribes will receive almost $38 million in economic development bonds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette.

The Oneida Tribe of Indians will use the $15 million in tax-exempt bonds to refinance some construction projects they have already undertaken and fund several upgrade projects at the Thornberry Creek at Oneida golf course.

The Menominee Nation, which received more than $22.5 million in bonds, will use the funds to pay for a new convention center and hotel expansion, according to assistant tribal attorney John Wilhelmi. The tribe may find other ways to finance this project and may not use the allocation in the end, but it gives them an additional option in a poor borrowing climate, Wilhelmi said.

“It's been a tough couple of years to borrow money and this would help,” Wilhelmi told the newspaper. He added that the legislation also removes previous restrictions on tribes to use tax-exempt bonds, expanding the types of projects that tribes can borrow for. Lance Broberg, the president of the Oneida Airport Hotel Corp. that runs the tribal hospitality entities, said the tribe applied for bonds to refinance the purchase of the Wingate Hotel, the purchase of Thornberry Creek at Oneida and a recent renovation project at the Oneida Casino that included the buffet area.

“We received partial funding for all three projects,” Broberg told the paper. “It allows us to get these dollars at low interest rates and reduce our debt.”

About 58 tribes will receive about $1 billion in stimulus bond authority, giving them access to low-interest bonds for infrastructure projects intended to speed up economic growth on reservations. Another $1 billion will be awarded in the next round of bonds given out by the Treasury Department next year.

Tax-exempt bonds attract investors because the interest payments are not subject to taxation. That can lower borrowing rates from lenders.