Jefferson County Up from Bankruptcy

After a judge approved terms of Jefferson County’s plan to work out of bankruptcy, county officials began turning to the future — hoping that a settlement will allow them to begin luring new employers to the county.

Jefferson County Economic and Industrial Development Authority Director Ted von Cannon told the Birmingham News that he’s sure Jefferson County missed out by being in bankruptcy.

“There is no question we were not making what I call ‘the look list’ for certain projects, likely a lot of projects, ” he told the News, “because when you’re trying to decide between a handful of communities, choosing one that is in bankruptcy and one that is not makes it pretty easy to cut down your list.”

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield agreed, telling the News, “It froze, in many cases, their ability to help compete for projects through tax credits and incentives.”

Jefferson County officials, struggling to come back from a  $4.2 billion bankruptcy that stemmed from fraud and mismanagement, negotiated relief from $1.4 billion in debt, but sewer system users will face rate increases for years to come.

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When the county went to the marketplace with a new bond issue to help finance its recovery, all the bonds found buyers, Businessweek reported.

Text by Nedra Bloom

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