Promise Zone Designation Could be 'Transformational'

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The city of Evansville is among the final nine federal Promise Zones. The initiative involves the government working with the city, ECHO Housing Corp. and other partners to help increase economic activity, job growth and quality of life. The area includes 22,000 residents and has a poverty rate of nearly 40 percent. Mayor Lloyd Winnecke says it will move the city to "the head of the line" for some federal funding opportunities.

He tells Inside INdiana Business it could be a "transformational tool" for economic development and job creation.

The effort also focuses on improving educational opportunities, reducing crime and leveraging private investment. The Promise Zone includes part of Evansville's central business district.

Winnecke says "federal partners in the Promise Zone initiative will find Evansville a strong partner in layering and leveraging strategic investments. We are seeking to create jobs and to generate significant new economic vitality - retooling our inner city neighborhoods and our downtown business district, which lies at the center of the Promise Zone area."

Last year, Indianapolis was named in the second batch of Promise Zone communities by the White House. The Obama Administration says the IndyEast Promise Zone has secured nearly $10 million in federal grants, which has helped to create 110 jobs. Programming includes work force training for hundreds of formerly incarcerated individuals and an energy efficient apartment building for low-income seniors.

The other communities receiving support this year are: Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; South Los Angeles, California; San Diego, California; Southwest Florida Regional Planning Commission; Spokane Tribe of Indians, Washington; Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, Rolette County, North Dakota; and Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro says "Promise Zones bring the power of partnership to a whole new level as we seek to bring opportunity to neighborhoods long locked out of their area’s prosperity. As a former mayor from a city that includes a Promise Zone, I know just how powerful these collaborations are when it comes to building stronger, economically vital neighborhoods."

Evansville and the other Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal funding for strategic planning, federal staff and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members.

You can read more about the program by clicking here.

He tells Inside INdiana Business it could be a "transformational tool" for economic development and job creation.
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