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Jones Walker Sponsors Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone Workshop in Baton Rouge
January 18, 2006

On January 18 at Lod Cook Conference Center, the Baton Rouge Area Chamber conducted a workshop to help business owners understand how to take advantage of recently passed federal legislation that includes tax breaks and tax-exempt financing for rebuilding the Gulf Region in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.  Jones Walker, commercial developers Kurz & Hebert, and  accounting corporation Postlethwaite & Netterville were presenting sponsors. Over 350 CEOs, CFOs, controllers, general counsel and business owners attended to learn about the recent legislation of Hurricane relief, tax breaks and incentives in the GO Zones, recommendations for rebuilding, risk mitigation, insurance coverage and bond programs.

Jones Walker presenters for the workshop, tax attorney Alex Trostorff and public finance and economic development  attorney and bond counsel Fred L. Chevalier, worked with the firm’s DC government relations team to represent numerous Louisiana companies in Washington during consideration of the Katrina tax relief package.

"We spent two months working closely with the Louisiana Congressional delegation who were instrumental in enacting the tax relief legislation aimed at revitalizing the hurricane affected areas, including Baton Rouge,” said Trostorff.

The $29 billion package offers relief to 30 parishes in Louisiana and includes many aspects, including new employee retention tax credits, zero-equity real estate developments and nearly $7.9 billion in tax-exempt development bonds.

“The clock has been turned back to pre-1986 to allow tax-exempt financing for commercial properties once again in the GO Zone through 2010. We must work together to take advantage of this rare opportunity for redevelopment," said Chevalier.

Some of the highlights of the legislation include an incentive that allows small businesses to expense up to $200,000 on new equipment; allow companies that closed down but continued to pay employees after the disaster to claim a 40 percent tax credit for up to $6,000 per employee from September-December; also individuals can borrow or withdraw from their retirement account without penalty.

The next legislative briefing will be held in New Orleans on January 23 at the Hotel InterContinental New Orleans from 9:00 a.m.– 11:00 a.m. in conjunction with Greater New Orleans, Inc. Congressional and state representatives have been invited to participate in these special briefings.