MADISON — The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium will include an Oct. 20 seminar on the work of the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority, which is authorized by federal and state law to oversee the issuance of federal income tax-exempt bonds by private non-profit healthcare and educational institutions in Wisconsin.
In 2004, WHEFA authorized nearly $1 billion in bond financings.
Presenters will include WHEFA board chairman John Noreika, WHEFA executive director Larry Nines, attorney Bill Flynn of Reinhart, Boerner Van Deuren, and Donna Gissen, vice president for planning and government affairs at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
WHEFA has been providing active capital financing assistance to Wisconsin non-profit healthcare institutions since 1979.  The Authority’s statute has been subsequently expanded to include the issuance of bonds for the benefit of independent colleges and universities, independent K-12 schools, continuing care facilities and health education centers.  Interest cost savings from Authority financings are reflected in lower costs to the consumer through the rates, fees and tuition established by the borrowing institutions. 
The credit supporting any Authority bond issue is the credit of the borrowing institutions involved.  The availability of financing depends in each case upon the credit-worthiness of those institutions.  The Authority’s bonds are not a debt, liability, or “moral” obligation of the State of Wisconsin.  In most cases, interest paid on Authority bonds is exempt from federal income taxation, resulting in materially lower financing costs to the borrowing institution.  Interest on bonds issued by the Authority is not exempt from present Wisconsin income taxation. 
Since its first financing was closed in 1979, WHEFA has issued more than 500 bonds for more than $10 billion.  More than 180 health and education borrowers have been able to access the capital markets at federally tax-exempt interest rates.
As the state looks at offering tax-exempt financing to stimulate and support its economy and its 501c3 institutions, additional legislative eligibility could be given to WHEFA.  Sectors and potential borrowers could include home health providers, applied research and new product development organizations, associations and consortiums involving 501c3 partners, and cultural facilities.
Purposes for which borrowed funds could be utilized could be expanded to include working capital — to the extent permitted under federal law.
Certain projects perceived to be beneficial by the state, such as investment in information technology, could be enhanced by legislation which offered a state tax exemption for such purposes. 
All of these initiatives would result in more effective access to capital, thus strengthening these important sectors of our economy.  Similar legislative initiatives, in full or in part, are in place in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan.
The Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium includes workshops for emerging companies, opportunities for those companies to meet investors, a seminar on applying for federal SBIR-STTR grants, a “Power of Angel Investing” seminar, and eight other panel discussions focused on elements of Wisconsin’s high-growth economy.
To register, go to
For symposium sponsorship opportunities or to learn more, call Sally Muller at 608-442-7557.