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(June 6, 2016) – LaBelle, Fla. – On Monday, President Obama announced Hendry County, in partnership with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council (RPC), as part of the President’s Promise Zone initiative. The Southwest Florida Promise Zone is a collaborative, evidence-based approach putting citizens and local leaders at the center of federal solutions.
The Promise Zone designation is a significant federal-government wide initiative in partnership with state and local governments and community partners to reduce poverty, create jobs and promote economic development in rural Southwest Florida. This initiative will help Hendry County implement strategies uniquely suited to our area, expanding educational opportunities, increasing economic activity, improving community infrastructure, leveraging private investment and improving public safety.
“The Promise Zone designation will open many exciting opportunities for the residents of Hendry County. I am honored that the federal Government has taken a vested interest in helping Hendry County residents. Our County staff along with the RPC deserves enormous credit for making this a reality!” said Chairman Michael Swindle.
The Southwest Florida Promise Zone covers all of Glades and Hendry Counties in addition to the northern section of Collier County including the rural community of Immokalee, north to Hendry County border. Promise Zones will receive priority access to federal investments that further their strategic plans, federal staff on the ground to help them implement their goals, and five full-time AmeriCorps VISTA members to recruit and manage volunteers and strengthen the capacity of the Promise Zone initiatives. Promise Zone designations will have a term of ten years and may be extended as necessary to capture the full term of availability of the Promise Zone tax incentives if enacted by Congress.
The Southwest Florida Promise Zone will further a strategic plan focused on improving the quality of life and providing new opportunities for residents in a region with a young population, low cost of living, and an abundance of developable land; but with a high unemployment rate (15.65 percent). Home to 76,438 residents and with a poverty rate of 31.2 percent, some of the notable goals of this Promise Zone include developing markets for locally grown fresh food, promoting eco-tourism, redeveloping transportation and manufacturing infrastructure, and reducing violent crime with a focus on human trafficking and drug intervention.