WASHINGTON – Pres. Obama will discuss five proposed anti-poverty zones Thursday, including one here in Oklahoma.
At a White House event, San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will be announced as the first five “Promise Zones.”
These areas are designed to create jobs and increase economic security by partnering local communities with business.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s key strategies include:
- Improving skills for tomorrow’s jobs, through workforce training for skilled trades and professionals and more rigorous summer and after-school programs.
- Leveraging its role as the largest employer in southeastern Oklahoma to create a strong base for economic revitalization by working with partners, like Oklahoma State University, Eastern Oklahoma State College, and the Kiamichi Technology Center to improve workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, with a focus on providing nationally-recognized STEM certifications.
- Investing in infrastructure that lays the foundation for economic growth, including water and sewer infrastructure; these infrastructure challenges have been identified as impediments to investment in an area with otherwise strong growth potential.
- Improving educational outcomes by working across 85 school districts throughout the region to share data for continuous improvement, and bolster early literacy and parent support programs.
- Pursuing economic diversification by utilizing natural, historic, and cultural resources to support growth, including evaluation of market capacity for local farmers’ markets, as well as implementation of technology-enhanced “traditional” farming and ranching, and large-scale greenhouses and specialized training in business plan development, marketing, and financing to support the development of women-owned businesses in the Promise Zone.
THE PROMISE ZONES INITIATIVE
The five Promise Zones announced today are part of the 20 that will be announced over the next three years. These unique partnerships support local goals and strategies with:
- Accountability for Clear Goals: Each Promise Zone has identified clear outcomes they will pursue to revitalize their community, with a focus on creating jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, increasing access to quality, affordable housing and reducing violent crime. All Promise Zones will continuously track those outcomes, and have committed to sharing data across their community partners (private-sector, non-profits, federal, state, and local agencies, etc.) so that each partner can work towards improvement and accountability. The Administration will work with the Promise Zones and third party experts to track progress and evaluate results.
- Intensive Federal Partnership: Modeled after the Administration’s successful Strong Cities Strong Communities and Strike Force for Rural Growth and Opportunity initiatives, which have created unique partnerships between local stakeholders and the federal government, these first five Promise Zones will benefit from intensive federal support at the local level to help them implement their economic and community development goals.
- Help Accessing Resources: Where necessary to achieve their goals, Promise Zones will get priority and be able to access federal investments that further the goals of job creation, additional private investment, increased economic activity, improved educational opportunity, and reduction in violent crime.
- National Service: Each Promise Zone will be provided five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to support their strategic plan. These VISTAs will recruit and manage volunteers, and strengthen the capacity of Promise Zones to expand economic opportunity.
- Investing in What Works: In order to be designated as a Promise Zone, these five communities have already demonstrated that they are pursuing strategies that have data proving their effectiveness. This same data will also help direct future federal investments to these Zones.
- Cutting Taxes for Businesses: Finally, President Obama has proposed, and called on Congress to act, to cut taxes on hiring and investment in areas designated as Promise Zones – based upon the proven model of Empowerment Zones tax credits – to attract businesses and create jobs.