Thursday, January 9, 2014

San Antonio Gets 'Promise Zone' Designation From White House

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 12:41 PM

President Obama picked San Antonio and four other cities in the country to receive 'Promise Zone' designation— a label that grants low-income communities a boost in areas like educational opportunity, job creation, access to affordable housing and improvements to public safety— and U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro and District 2 council member Ivy Taylor plan to rep SA's Eastside at the White House this afternoon.

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U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro via Campaign Web Site

"I am delighted that San Antonio has been chosen as a Promise Zone," said Castro in a statement, anticipating the official announcement.

"San Antonio has distinguished itself in the past few years as a city where pro-education and pro-business efforts go hand-in-hand in emerging out of a stalled economy. While San Antonio is the only major city in the U.S. to have a AAA bond rating, its people also voted to invest in our young students by establishing Pre-K for SA. The Promise Zone helps continue to strengthen for Texans what I call the Infrastructure of Opportunity that enables all Americans to achieve their dreams."

The five 'Promise Zones,' which include areas in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, are the first out of 20 that'll receive designation in the next three years. Each City must put forth a strategic plan showing how they'll collaborate with local businesses and community leaders to invest in the neighborhood. In return, they are afforded federal resources and tax credits to accomplish set goals.

"I am thrilled that the City of San Antonio's application for the Eastside Promise Zone was selected as one of five Promise Zone designations in the country," said Taylor in a statement. "This important designation will support businesses within the promise zone area with tax benefits for hiring local."

Additionally, said Taylor, all federal grant applications that pertain to the Promise Zone area will receive an additional five points, making those applications "extremely competitive." Taylor made note that the designation is the result of the work  between the City, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County and the San Antonio Housing Authority. SA's Eastside received a $312,000 one-year grant in 2010 from the U.S. Department of Education (one of 21 federal grants given nationwide) meant to revitalize the area. The new grant allocates more than $750 million across the five communities.

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District 2's Ivy Taylor via COSA

"The Eastside Promise Zone designation points to tremendous progress in economic and community development that is being made in East San Antonio," she said.

Specifically, SA will focus on job creation and training, including a partnership with St. Philip’s College in areas like energy, health care, business support, aerospace/advanced manufacturing, and construction. There's also a push to increase enrollment in pre-K programs and Early College Programs and provide adult education opportunities. SA's plan will additionally bolster public safety activities to facilitate neighborhood revitalization.

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