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Rural Areas Eligible for Expanded Federal Help to Drive Economic Growth

aerial view of small town
'Promise Zone' designation offers special benefits to communities that demonstrate commitment to economic growth

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Friday announced a competition to designate a new round of "Promise Zones."

Promise Zones are regions that are part of an effort to expand the middle class by partnering with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

'Promise Zone' designation offers special benefits to communities that demonstrate commitment to economic growth

Urban, rural, and tribal communities nationwide will be invited to put forward a plan to partner with local business and community leaders to make evidence-based investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity.

In exchange, these designees will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives.

"The Promise Zones initiative allows us to work directly with local leaders and organizations to meet a community's specific needs," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "In the current Promise Zones, especially in rural and tribal areas, we are seeing how effective it can be when we work in a coordinated way to address economic and social challenges."

Related: New Federal Financing, Opportunities for Small and Mid-Size Farmers

In January of this year, President Obama announced the first five Promise Zones: San Antonio, Texas, Los Angeles, Calif., Philadelphia, Pa., Southeastern Kentucky Highlands and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

In these areas, more jobs are already available and public services are expanding. Friday's announcement of a new Promise Zone competition will help bring similar success to high-poverty communities across the country, USDA said.

Any community meeting the qualifying criteria can apply for a designation, regardless of whether it has a previous federal grant. HUD and USDA will designate at least 8 Promise Zones across urban, rural and tribal communities. The deadline for submitting Promise Zone applications is November 21, 2014.

HUD will convene three distinct webcasts for urban, rural, and tribal to discuss the second round of the Promise Zone Initiative with interested communities. For more information, visit the Promise Zones webpage.

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