Mantua starting to fulfill its promise, U.S. officials say

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A West Philadelphia neighborhood and other challenged areas are showing signs of progress. That was the message delivered Friday by local and federal officials about areas designated earlier this year as “Promise Zones.” 

The idea behind federal Promise Zones is to create jobs, increase economic security, improve educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

In January, officials designated Mantua and four other areas as Promise Zones.

While that’s a huge undertaking in many communities, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said the Philadelphia Promise Zone in Mantua has shown definite improvement.

“They’ve already implemented an entrepreneurship consortium in order to connect entrepreneurs with technical assistance and one-on-one financial counseling. They’re building, as well, a vehicle to streamline the funding process for those starting small retail businesses,” Casey said. “And this service is free.”

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said he was pleased with what he saw during a recent stop in Philadelphia.

“I saw how the public and private sectors are coming together to advance common goals and how they’re making progress,” said Castro, a former mayor of San Antonio.

Promise Zones are aimed at giving “underserved” people the opportunity to build stronger neighborhoods and more prosperous lives, he said.

Officials said they will designate eight more Promise Zones in the next round. Applications are due in November.

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