Choctaw Nation Selected As One Of President Obama's 'Promise Zones'

Thursday, January 9th 2014, 7:49 pm
By: News 9

The Promise Zone Initiative is a partnership between the federal government and local communities. The goals are fight poverty, create jobs, and create opportunities. Now, the Choctaw Nation is in the spotlight of this entire partnership.

"[A] sad part of the state is now being focused on to elevate that part of the state," said Assistant Chief Gary Batton.

It is a focus that's been around for a while within the Choctaw Nation.

"For strategic perspective, this has been in our plans," said Batton.

Now, Batton and the Choctaw Nation have the support of the President and the federal government.

"We will help them succeed, not with a hand out but as partners, every step of the way and we're going to make sure it works," said President Obama.

In a written statement, the President said the promise zones will receive the resources and flexibility they need to achieve their goals.

"I don't care whether ideas are Democratic or Republican. I do care that they work," said the President.

The Choctaw Nation encompasses most of southeast Oklahoma, which has a poverty rate that's seven points above the national average and the highest violent crime rate in the state. To counteract that, the tribe will start from the ground up.

"The more we can get our people educated, the more we can provide jobs and hopefully the crime rates go down, abuse of drugs go down," said Batton

And then the focus will be on tax credits for businesses.

"Get the private investors to maybe bring a manufacturing plant," said Batton.

But this announcement is just meant to be step one.

"The first thing was the philosophy, the next is the implementation," said Batton.

The Choctaw Nation hopes to begin those planning stages within the next few weeks, Nationwide the president plans to announce 20 promise zones within the next three years.

The other four Promise Zones are San Antonio, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and southeastern Kentucky.