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Agricultural News

Rural Development Undersecretary Outlines 'Promise Zone' Designation Impact for Choctaw Nation

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 15:25:00 CST

Rural Development Undersecretary Outlines 'Promise Zone' Designation Impact for Choctaw Nation
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development earlier this week announced the designation of five communities as Promise Zones. The communities will benefit from a comprehensive approach to development with the assistance of the federal government.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is one of the five communities selected for the project.

USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development Doug O'Brien spoke with Radio Oklahoma Network's Ron Hays about the program and what it means for the Choctaw Nation.

"To qualify for this round of Promise Zones, the communities and regions needed to indicate that they had significant poverty and also that they had significant capacity to implement a successful strategy."

He said these strategies are designed to help improve the quality of life and economic opportunities.

"We have programs that will help communities build low-income housing. We have- community facilities grant programs that provides dollars to communities or non-profits to build essential community facilities. We have rural business entrepreneurial grant programs that helps communities and economic development organizations support job-growth strategies."

O'Brien said those are the programs just within the USDA. The Promise Zone designees will also receive assistance from other federal government departments like the Education Department and the department of Housing and Urban Development.

He said the Promise Zones project is a way to use dollars already appropriated by Congress in a more strategic way that is more aligned with the vision of the local community and is more likely to make a positive impact.

O'Brien said the Choctaw Nation was selected because it had a great strategy.

"The Choctaw Nation, its strategy focuses on improving skills for tomorrow's jobs through workforce training for skilled trades and professionals and more rigorous after school programs. They also focus on workforce training for nationally-recognized STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, certification. And they also want to invest in infrastructure that lays the foundation for economic growth including water and sewer infrastructure.

"Here are some very specific strategies that the community-the Choctaw Nation-in this case, has arrived at. It's a place of great need and the federal government looks forward to partnering with them in the most impactful way possible."


Ron Hays talks with Doug O'Brien about what Promise Zone designation means.
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