Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Detroit's Promise Zone Goes It Alone

Detroit Promise Zone by
Can Detroit be saved without Obama? Image via DeadRepublicanParty
January 29, 2014 - Detroit. Do I even have to explain this to you? Detroit is synonymous with "dead zone," "ghost town," and "failure."

The Motor City is all but dead, but it still has a pulse and that gives some hope of some kind of recovery. Is that possible?

Michigan's state government will work to make it so, of course, and have even if Barack Obama has shown no interest in helping them -- and even if their prescription for recovery is flawed.

On January 9, Obama unveiled his first five “promise zones” in a White House press conference. "These zones are pockets of the country that will receive comprehensive federal assistance after being especially hard hit by the recession," reported Forbes. "There will ultimately be 20 zones across the country." Surprisingly, Detroit was not one of Obama's first five promise zones. 

San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeaster Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma were named as places that will benefit from the promise zones. Cutting red tape and streamlining federal funding are among the ways intended to help. "In this way, specific zones can benefit from strategic, targeted government funding in the areas it needs it most," said Forbes.

At least one resident of San Antonio is confused by Detroit's omission from the list of promise zones. "Being a long term resident of San Antonio," Donald Hendricks wrote at BiggerPockets, "I am perplexed as to where in San Antonio that it is so impoverished that it garners intervention of the federal government. True, we do have a higher than average crime rate, but this wasn't always the case. The crime rate spiked with the relocation of Katrina refugees to the city, many who never left. Further, much of the crime problems can be linked to illegal immigrants and drug cartels. Our crime problem is nothing compared to what goes on blocks from the White House or in Chicago... Or Detroit!"

On January 28, House Resolution No. 293 was proposed in the Michigan legislature and was immediately adopted. It declared January 27-31, 2014, as "Promise Zones Awareness Week" in the state of Michigan. To summarize it, the resolution calls for scholarships to help educate Michigan's youth beyond high school because, as HR 293 says, "Michigan’s economic future depends upon more of our citizens obtaining college degrees, technical certifications, and other meaningful post-secondary credentials." The bad news, admitted to in the resolution, is that "Michigan’s level of educational attainment has lagged behind the national average."

This was already tried in 2005, with some success. "Kalamazoo became the first community in the United States," it says in HR 293, "to embrace a new concept for dramatically raising the level of educational attainment—a universal place-based scholarship initiative known as the Kalamazoo Promise." Read the full text of Michigan's House Resolution No. 293.

Michigan - and Detroit - will have to go it alone. No help from Obama, not yet at least. The so-far-mythical Detroit renaissance (now there's a promise!) will need knights on sturdy steeds. "Many of us share the disappointment voiced by the Free Press last week," a letter to the editor said on January 18, "that Detroit was not named by President Barack Obama as a Promise Zone under his new anti-poverty initiative. But it is important that the Free Press and its readers know that we are not simply sitting around waiting for a decision on the next round of funding." Sounds like the knights are ready. Let's hope their steeds are swift.

Thanks For Linking To This Post: Dead Citizens Rights Society and Moonbattery.

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