Five Brothers

HUD Press Release No. 14-003: Obama Administration Announces The First Five Promise Zone Designees

USDA Public Affairs
(202) 720-4623

HUD No. 14-003
HUD Public Affairs
(202) 708-0685

January 9, 2014

Five communities to receive Administration support for revitalization


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Agriculture (USDA) announced today the five inaugural U.S. communities that have been designated as Promise Zones, an intensive and layered approach to revitalizing distressed communities. The Promise Zones will benefit from a comprehensive approach to development that will enhance and connect local assets ranging from schools to housing to jobs.


The first five Promise Zones—located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma—have each put forward a plan on how they will leverage federal partnerships and resources in the most effective ways possible to improve their communities. In exchange, these designees will be able to access federal investments in order to achieve their goals.


“The Promise Zones effort represents a partnership for progress,” stated HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. “Federal agencies will be working with each other, and local leaders, like never before to give distressed communities—urban, rural and tribal—the assets they need to succeed like good schools, safe streets and quality housing. Working together, we are going to give families what every American deserves: a fair chance to succeed. I look forward to working with all parties to chart a new course in these areas, one full of new hope and opportunities for the future.”


“Rural Americans often face the same barriers to income equality as folks in our cities, and that’s why the Promise Zones effort focuses on both urban and rural areas,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Through intensive outreach and technical assistance, we will provide rural and tribal areas with the tools they need to create new, sustainable economic opportunity today and for generations to come. USDA looks forward to teaming up with partners across the federal government and at the local level to build a brighter economic future for all.”


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 security, expanding access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing, and improving public safety. 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: Each Promise Zone will receive federal staff that will work on the ground, side-by-side local staff, to help communities break down regulatory barriers, use existing funds more effectively, and implement their economic visions. 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 be able to access federal investments that further the goals of job creation, additional private investment, increased economic activity, improved access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing, and reduction in violent crime. Promise Zones will receive priorities in accessing resources required to carry out their strategic plan from up to 10 agencies, including the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and the Treasury; and the Small Business Administration.
  • 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 evidence-based strategies to improve identified goals and outcomes, and have realigned their own state and local resources to meet these goals and outcomes. In short, these Promise Zone designees are already investing in programs and partnerships 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 cutting 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.


Please click here to view the online Press Release in its entirety