Last week San Antonio's East Side neighborhood was selected as one of the five communities to receive the Obama administration's Promise Zones designation, meaning it will be part of a collaborative revitalization initiative aimed at turning around 20 of the highest poverty communities in the country.
Never one to accept anything that comes from the Obama Administration, Greg Abbott denounced the initiative, saying, “The truth is, we don't need Barack Obama's Promise Zones; we already have Promise Zones and they are called entrepreneurs.”
Ted Cruz also attacked Promise Zones in a complete non sequitur, saying, “All of America needs to be a real 'Promise Zone' – with reduced barriers to small businesses creating private-sector jobs – and we should start by repealing every word of Obamacare, building the Keystone pipeline, abolishing the IRS and rolling back abusive regulations.”
Read more about what the initiative will actually mean for San Antonio after the jump.Aside from the fact that the attacks on Promise Zones from Abbott and Cruz have nothing to do with the substance of the initiative (nor is it clear that either of them had heard of the program before they decided to comment on it), they are especially ironic given that Promise Zones is not actually the kind of government spending program they're imagining it to be. The program is actually about better targeting federal resources from a variety of agencies into these designated communities, cutting red tape along the way, and building on neighborhood revitalization strategies and infrastructures that are already largely in place. Though the administration is asking for $750 million for tax incentives to support the initiative, the designees will benefit from coordinated federal partnerships even if the additional funding never comes through.
San Antonio's designation will help it implement a multifaceted strategy that focuses on job creation, pre-K enrollment, early-college and adult-education, the removal of abandoned buildings and improved street lighting. Congressman Joaquin Castro has said he's “delighted” about the designation, and Mayor Julián Castro called it “a promising investment in creating more job opportunities and revitalizing neighborhoods on the East Side.”
Looking past Abbott's insistence that entrepreneurs will revitalize the communities where none currently exist and Cruz's inane assortment of alternate solutions, San Antonio really does stand to benefit tremendously from the partnerships and the concentration of resources that its Promise Zone designation will bring.