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Washington residents go for “Buy Washington” bonds in a big way

OLYMPIA, Wash. – It was a two-day buying frenzy. Retail investors snapped up nearly $90 million in Washington highway bonds Monday and Tuesday. It's the first time in more than 14 years that individual investors have had the chance to buy state bonds ahead of Wall Street.

In this era of "buy local," this was a chance for Washington investors to keep their money at home. State residents got priority status to purchase bonds backed by Washington's motor vehicle fuel tax.

The bonds will help pay for a series of state and local highway projects in the coming years. Demand was so intense, the early-bird sale was expanded by nearly $40 million.

State Treasurer Jim McIntire says there was clearly a lot of pent up demand.

"There are quite a few people in Washington state that are very interested in having the chance to invest in-state and invest in their local economy and see the future grow," McIntire says.

Eighty-five percent of the pre-sale bonds went to investors in Washington. They could purchase in increments of $5,000 up to a maximum of $1 million. They'll get interest payments twice a year.

Wall Street investment banks will bid for the remaining $650 million in bonds.

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Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.