Promise Zones Include Two Rural Areas

Last Updated: January 27, 2014

This article appeared in the January 2014 Rural Policy Matters.

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An eight-county region of rural southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, including 12 rural counties, are among five economically struggling locations designated as federal Promise Zones. The designation provides competitive advantage in certain federal grants along with federal assistance and partnerships to revitalize communities through job creation, expanded educational opportunities, improved housing, better public safety, supports and training for small business development and entrepreneurial activity, and infrastructure development.

The initiative reflects the federal “place-based” focus to invest strategically for improved outcomes for children and local residents in struggling neighborhoods. The cities of San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia also received designations for selected neighborhoods.

The Promise Zones were selected through a competitive process in which applicants identified key strategies, partnerships, and outcomes.

Promise Zone initiatives in the Choctaw Nation and in southeastern Kentucky will focus on economic diversification, workforce training, and partnerships with regional colleges and local school districts.

The Choctaw Nation economic initiatives specifically include development of farmers markets and other activities to support local production of and access to healthy foods as well as an emphasis on the development of women-owned businesses. Education initiatives focus on early literacy, parent support, and STEM training. The initiative will also invest in water and sewer infrastructure development.

Southeastern Kentucky economic initiatives emphasize retraining for local skilled workers (particularly laid-off miners affected by significant reductions in coal mining); job creation and entrepreneurship training. Education initiatives focus on college and career-readiness programs for high school students.

The designations will remain in place for ten years. The administration has said it hopes to expand the program to 20 communities by 2016.

Read more:

Description of the Promise Zone Initiative

White House Fact Sheet on the Promise Zone Initiative

National News coverage

Coverage of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Promise Zone:

Coverage of the southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone


Read more from the January 2014 Rural Policy Matters.