Presented by The Bond Buyer
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 4, 2015) — KentuckyWired beat out seven other regional winners in being named The Bond Buyer’s 2015 ‘Deal of the Year’ Thursday night at an awards ceremony in New York City. The Kentucky Economic Development Authority earned the award in recognition of its $232 million tax-exempt bond transaction for construction of the 3,200-plus mile broadband project.
“I am tremendously excited about this award, as it puts us in great company across the country,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “This award is one more example of Kentucky’s innovative and forward-thinking strategy to fund one of the largest and most significant infrastructure projects in our state’s history. As the largest public-private partnership in the nation for public technology, KentuckyWired will bring broadband connectivity to every county in the commonwealth.”
KentuckyWired is the fiber optic infrastructure to bring high-speed Internet service across the state, which currently ranks at or near the bottom of the country in broadband speeds and availability. There will be access points in every county with nearly 1,100 government facilities connected to the network. Because the network is open access, local internet service providers can tap into the network to deliver last-mile service to homes and businesses.
“Nominees this year faced stiff competition from many eminently qualified deals,” said Michael Scarchilli, editor in chief of The Bond Buyer. “We chose the finalists for innovation, the ability to pull complex transactions together under challenging conditions, the ability to serve as a model for other financings and the public purpose for which a deal’s proceeds were used.”
Kentucky was in prestigious company and in strong competition for Deal of the Year. Other regional winners that vied for the top award included:
- Midwest Region: Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority, for $30 million in tax increment financing airport development revenue bonds for runway expansion to meet new safety requirements.
- Northeast Region: Pennsylvania Economic Development Finance Authority, for a $721.5 million tax-exempt private activity bond issue to repair 4,000 bridges throughout the state.
- Southwest Region: North Texas Tollway Authority, for refinancing debt to improve its credit rating related to $3.2 billion in bonds issued during the Great Recession.
- Far West Region: The Regents of the University of California, for structuring a $2.85 billion bond deal to take advantage of low-interest rates to reduce overall debt costs.
- Small Issuer Financing: El Paso Housing Authority, for issuing $59 million in bonds for a public-private partnership requiring the use of tax credits, private activity bonds and private equity to save aging public housing units from obsolescence.
- Non-Traditional Financing: State of Hawaii, for $150 million Green Energy Market Stabilization Bonds for a project to harness the state’s abundant sunshine to produce clean power.
- Healthcare Financing: The New York-Presbyterian Hospital, for restructuring its traditional financing to allow the hospital to move in different strategic directions including population health strategies.
Deal of the Year Awards represent the full diversity of the communities and public purposes that are served by the municipal finance market, from the largest to the smallest deals. The awards were open to transactions that closed between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 25, 2015. Kentucky’s transaction closed on Sept. 3, 2015 and was well received in the marketplace.