Elkhart County in northern Indiana has been designated as a ”recovery zone” under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

County commissioners Monday approved a resolution that gives Elkhart County access to $75 million in low-interest bonds to jumpstart economic recovery and job creation, according to the Goshen News

As defined by the ARRA, a recovery zone is any area having significant levels of poverty, unemployment, rates of home foreclosures, or overall general distress — all of which currently apply to Elkhart County, the center of RV production in the U.S.

Through the new designation, local governmental units and certain private entities within Elkhart County will now have access to the bonds.

Once issued, such bonds would receive a 45% subsidy of their interest cost from the federal government, which will result in significant interest cost savings for local governments and select private businesses.

In order to validate the new designation, the commissioners recently compiled a factual report outlining the various ways Elkhart County meets the qualifications for a recovery zone.

Findings from the report, which were released Monday, concluded the following:

• The county has experienced significant poverty as demonstrated by unemployment, foreclosures, failed businesses, bankruptcies, vacant properties, demands on area food pantries, and other financial hardships experienced by families.

• The county has experienced significant unemployment as demonstrated by unemployment rates leading the state and receiving local, state and national attention.

• The county has experienced a significant rate of home foreclosures as demonstrated by foreclosure rates meeting or exceeding state and national averages.

• The county has significant general distress as demonstrated by all of the above circumstances.

According to County Attorney Craig Buche, access to the program’s $75 million in low-interest bonding authority will be divided into two categories, or “caps”, with approximately $30 million designated for use by local governmental units under the Recovery Zone Cap, and the remaining $45 million designated for us by county-approved private entities under the Recovery Zone Facility Cap.

While no capital projects have yet been pegged for receipt of the low-interest bonding authority, the commissioners are encouraging all cities, towns and private businesses within Elkhart County who have economic development capital projects in the works to apply through the commissioner’s office.