The participating federal agencies may also choose to name some applicants as "Promise Zone Finalists" as a result of this selection process. The purpose of selecting Promise Zone Finalists will be to recognize communities whose applications reflect high-quality strategies under the criteria set forth in the Application Guide, but are not selected as Promise Zone designees. The participating federal agencies will seek to expand national knowledge about Promise Zone Finalist communities and their revitalization strategies by posting information submitted in the Finalists' applications on agency websites, and the participating federal agencies will communicate regularly with Finalists about opportunities for relevant funding or technical assistance that may become available, although no preference points, or other Promise Zone designation advantages in federal funding competitions will be awarded as a result of Finalist status.
Round I Finalist
Lead Organization: Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District
Located in central Louisiana, the Louisiana Delta Coalition consists of 15 parishes and includes the lands of the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians. The region has suffered from chronic poverty, persistent unemployment, and chronic distress. The region is home to 194,000 residents, of whom 27% live below the poverty line. Many of the jurisdictions within the region have been designated Historically Underutilized Business Zones by the United States Small Business Administration. The Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning and Development District, in collaboration with local government, sees the chance to enhance local opportunities through targeted trainings to meet local labor demands, increased support for education, and leveraging natural resources, such as timber and cotton, to support investment in small business and local communities.
Luna County Region, NM & AZ
Round I Finalist
Lead Organization: Luna County
Located in southwest New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, the Luna County region lies on the border of Mexico and is home to 71,000 residents, of whom 22% live below the poverty line. The region has some of the highest child and elder hunger rates in addition to high rates of homelessness. Homelessness is exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing. Luna County, in collaboration with Southwest New Mexico Partnership and Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments, seeks to utilize community assets to create a vocational school, leading to greater job opportunities, create a more diverse economy, stimulate local economies, develop more affordable housing and address existing drug and mental health issues. Luna County would utilize existing partnerships such as the Wellness Coalition, the Volunteer Center, and existing school districts and local institutions of higher education.
North Central Montana
Round I Finalist
Lead Organization: Opportunity Link
The North Central Montana region encompasses 11 counties in addition to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and the Rocky Boy’s Reservation. It is home to 116,000 residents of whom 20% live below the poverty line. The North Central Montana region has an unemployment rate of 45%, due in part to a lack of access to job opportunities and access to transportation. Opportunity Link, a non-profit organization, in collaboration with local tribal governments, has identified a few critical areas for development, including but not limited to: access to livable wage opportunities, increased transportation availability, preventative healthcare, improved infrastructure, and others. Opportunity Link sees the North Central Montana region as an area ripe for growth because of a few factors, such as the availability of a trainable workforce, accessible postsecondary institutions, availability of renewable energy such as solar and wind, and the resilience of these small communities. Opportunity Link and the tribal governments seek need-based improvements in infrastructure, asset-based growth in agriculture, energy, and healthcare, and support for emerging entrepreneurial and heritage tourist activity.
Vieques and Culebera, Puerto Rico
Lead Organization: University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras Campus
The Vieques and Culebra target community comprises the archipelago off Puerto Rico's eastern coast and is home to 11,118 residents. Despite being an international tourist destination, these islands continue to struggle. The islands have high level of needs based on analysis of poverty and unemployment rates. Labor participation rates in Vieques and Culebera are 47% and 50% respectively. The poverty level is 45% in Vieques and 57% in Culebra, which is three and four times higher than the rate in the U.S. Between 2008-2013. Serious and violent crime rates per 1,000 people were 33 in Vieques and 31 in Culebera, rates more than twice higher than the country average. Despite limited economic opportunities for residents' in Vieques and Culebra, continuous external investment reflects their high growth potential. Both islands have a very high concentration of world renowned touristic, historic, and cultural attractions, and can provide opportunity for development of businesses and social enterprises, increasing economic activities and creating jobs. Led by University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus (UPR-RP) which has a long tradition of collaborating with communities in Vieques and Culebra, the islands' communities revitalization plan will collaborate with local private and public partners to create jobs, reduce serious and violent crime, improve education opportunities, increase economic activity, improve access to high quality psychological services and establish structures planning and institution building. A range of activities to successfully reach the outlined goals include four main projects: the creation of the Alliance for Small and Medium Enterprise Development; Vente Pa' la Plaza Events-Placemaking through Public Arts, the establishment of a Social Justice Center, and establishment of a Special School District.
Round III Finalist
Lead Organization: Riverside County Economic Development Agency
The Eastern Coachella Valley (ECV) is located in the southeastern portion of Riverside County and is home to 60,000 residents, 35% of whom live below the poverty line. The ECV has a history of long-term unemployment, multi-generational poverty, and poor educational outcomes – the school district serving the ECV is the second poorest in the nation. The median income in the ECV is 45% less than that of California and 36% less than that of the United States at large. The unemployment rate in the ECV is twice the rate of California. The Riverside County Economic Development Agency (RCEDA) does, however, foresee the potential for growth within the ECV. The ECV is home to the largest Solar Energy Zone, the Salton Sea, and is an important farm-to-market corridor. RCEDA sees the opportunity to leverage these resources to improve the public education system, create new employment opportunities, raise incomes, increase English proficiency, and increase access to affordable housing.
Navajo Nation – Arizona, New Mexico, Utah
Round III Finalist
Lead Organization: Navajo Technical University
The Navajo Nation Reservation is home to more than 170,000 people, of whom approximately 38% live in poverty. The Navajo Reservation is spread across three states; Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. In the past, Navajo has suffered from a lack of economic opportunity and poor infrastructure, in part due to its remote location. Today, many residents of Navajo still lack access to good job opportunities, affordable housing, quality education, and accessible healthcare. In addition, Navajo has a high per capita crime rate, poor health outcomes compared to national trends, and its remote nature leads to food deserts. Navajo Technical University (NTU), in collaboration with the Navajo Nation, will utilize both institutions’ significant resources to marshal a new effort to address persistent social inequities. NTU and the Navajo Nation will utilize resources to create new housing availability, improve educational opportunities and outcomes, improve upon health disparities, and use law enforcement training to reduce violent crime. The plan by NTU and the Navajo Nation capitalizes on the synergy between two institutions inextricably linked to the community on Navajo.