WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its second round of “Promise Zones,” singling out eight economically struggling communities for special government attention as they work together to reduce poverty and crime, increase economic and educational opportunities and attract private investment.
The six cities, one rural area and one tribal community named by Housing Secretary Julian Castro and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are:
—Camden, New Jersey
—St. Louis and St. Louis County, Missouri
—Pine Ridge Indian Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, South Dakota
—South Carolina Low Country
“From my time as mayor to my tenure as secretary, I’ve seen firsthand how a Promise Zone designation can spark progress and possibilities in underserved neighbourhoods,” Castro said. “A ZIP code should never limit the hopes that folks have for themselves or for their children.”
San Antonio, the city Castro led as mayor before he joined Obama administration, was among the first five Promise Zones that Obama announced last year.
Seven zones are still to be named, for a total of 20 over a three-year period.
Besides San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma were among the first five zones named.
Under the program, communities designated as zones receive preferential treatment when applying for federal grants, benefit from more co-ordinated government assistance and would be singled out for possible congressionally approved tax incentives.
The federal government and local leaders in these communities work together to increase economic activity and educational opportunities, attract private investment, reduce violent crime, improve public health and address any other priorities that the communities identify.