The Obama Administration today will designate a portion of San Antonio's East Side as a Promise Zone,' one of five areas in the country which will be designated as places where efforts will be made to fight poverty and decrease income inequality, 1200 WOAI news reports.
'Promise Zones,' much like the Enterprise Zone concept from the Carter Administration, will be places where the federal government will provide tax incentives and grants to help communities tackle endemic poverty.
Mario Hernandez, who heads the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, says it is a good way to convince employers to move into historically blighted areas.
"That is very important in economic development," he said. "You need to consider this because there is a tool here which is not available in other parts of the city, or in other cities."
Other 'Promise Zones; will include portions of Philadelphia and Los Angeles, rural southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
"I am thrilled that the City of San Antonio’s application for the East Side Promise Zone has been selected," Councilwoman Ivy Taylor said. "This important designation will support businesses within the Promise Zone with tax benefits for hiring local. Additionally, all federal grant applications for areas within the Premise Zone will receive an additional five points, making those applications extremely competitive."
Conservatives say the Promise Zone initiative is an admission by the Obama Administration and by Democrats that federal regulations and tax policy depress job creation. Why else would the White House say that the way to help the Promise Zones is to provide tax incentives and regulatory relief? Conservatives say the same benefits should be extended to the entire nation.
Conservatives also point out that the locations of the urban Promise Zones are in areas where the local economies are already doing well...and ask why Detroit was not singled out for Promise Zone status. They say the East Side of San Antonio is already benefitting from similar types of gentrification which benefitted the Lower Broadway area, and say the White House will be able to take credit for economic growth which is already occurring.
U.S. Rep Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) says the designation of San Antonio is critical for the region's growth.
"The White House today charts the course for job creation in South Texas and revitalization of our neighborhoods by putting tax dollars to work where it matters," Gallego said. "Plus, the Promise Zone initiative makes it easier for people, communities, and cities to access federal funds by making the grant application simpler and cutting red tape and bureaucracy."
"That's all we ask," Hernandez said. "Let us prove our case, let us show why it's better to do business on the East Side."