First Promise Zone Designation for Puerto Rico
On June 2, 2016, USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack announced the first Promise Zone designation for Puerto Rico to serve the eastern portion of the island. The lead agency is the Local Redevelopment Authority of Roosevelt Roads; implementation partners include the municipalities of Ceiba, Fajardo and Naguabo, and CBO Financial. This was the only Rural Promise Zone Designation made out of 14 applicants nationwide. The Promise Zone initiative brings the USDA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and 10 other federal agencies together to provide tailored assistance in accessing federal programs based on the specific needs of a community.
The primary goals of the Eastern Puerto Rico Promise Zone are to create jobs by boosting tourism and development, attracting film and TV production to Puerto Rico, constructing an environmentally and technologically advanced ship recycling facility and marinas, and establishing a logistics and distribution hub for surrounding islands, to reduce crime by improving prisoner re-entry programs, promoting health by developing a food hub and a commercial scale hydroponic farm with teaching kitchens and a food business incubator, and to provide housing options by refurbishing existing structures into affordable housing.
Promise Zones are high poverty communities where the federal government partners with local leaders to increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, leverage private investment, reduce violent crime, enhance public health and address other priorities identified by the community; Promise Zone Designees receive the following:
- An opportunity to engage five AmeriCorps VISTA members in the Promise Zone’s work
- A federal liaison assigned to help designees navigate federal programs
- Preferences for certain competitive federal grant programs and technical assistance from participating federal agencies
This package of assistance is designed to accelerate local efforts; the Promise Zone designation has a term of 10 years.
Further details can be found by viewing this Roosevelt Roads Fact Sheet.