Gov. Jay Nixon today announced his support for the collaboration between St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis to apply for a federal Promise Zone designation. The Governor directed the Missouri Office of Community Engagement to coordinate resources and assistance from state agencies to support this effort.
Announced in President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union Address, the Promise Zone Initiative partners local communities with federal agencies to accomplish the shared objectives of creating jobs, growing the economy, expanding access to a quality education, improving public safety, and increasing access to affordable housing. The Promise Zone designation provides communities preferential access for certain competitive federal programs and technical assistance to accelerate efforts to revitalize communities.
“This is a defining moment for the St. Louis region, and we’ll need strong collaboration among federal, state and local and federal partners in order to seize it,” said Gov. Nixon. “This effort to obtain a federal Promise Zone designation is just one piece of a coordinated, comprehensive effort to make sure the St. Louis region has all the resources necessary to build a brighter, more prosperous future for all of its residents. I thank Congressman Clay, County Executive Dooley and Mayor Slay for their leadership in this effort, which I’m pleased my administration is helping to facilitate.”
In 2014, the Obama Administration has designated the first five Promise Zones in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The Obama Administration intends to designate six additional Urban Promise Zones in 2015.
“After my close collaboration with both the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, I am very pleased to see this combined team effort at such a critical time for our region,” said Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay.
The State of Missouri is working with the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and other community leaders, non-profit organizations and educational institutions to submit an application for an Urban Promise Zone designation prior to the November 21st deadline for submission. The Office of Community Engagement will be seeking public input regarding the effort and letters of support from community leaders.
“This is a great opportunity to make critical investments that will move the entire St. Louis region forward,” said St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. “We appreciate the support of the Governor and County Executive Dooley as we work together to achieve this designation.”
In September, the Governor signed an executive order creating the Office of Community Engagement responsible for facilitating communication with Missourians and informing policy solutions for the unique challenges facing low-income and minority communities. The Governor appointed former State Senator Maida Coleman as the office’s director and former St. Louis City Municipal Judge Marvin Teer as deputy director and general counsel.
“This application exemplifies the continued effort on the part of the city and county to jointly address the challenges we face as a region,” said St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. “The Promise Zone designation, and support from the Governor’s office and our congressional delegation could greatly boost our efforts.”
Over the past three months, Gov. Nixon has advanced a number of initiatives to help residents and businesses affected by the unrest in Ferguson and to address some of the underlying challenges facing communities in North St. Louis County.
- The Governor announced that he will create a Ferguson Commission that will be charged with studying and making specific recommendations for how to make progress on the issues raised by events in Ferguson.
- A summer jobs program will connect 2,000 young people from low-income families in the St. Louis region with high-impact summer employment next year.
- The State of Missouri partnered with the St. Louis Regional Chamber and area businesses to create a $1 million Small Business Relief Fund to help businesses affected by unrest in Ferguson.
- The Governor announced $500,000 to establish a partnership between the University of Missouri-St. Louis and the North Campus to expand access to math and science tutoring for at-risk students in the area.
- Through the Missouri Works Training program, Gov. Nixon’s administration helped facilitate a significant expansion by Centene, expected to create 200 jobs in Ferguson.
For more information on the Obama Administration’s Promise Zone Initiative, visit www.hud.gov.