Springfield one of 64 applicants for urban Promise Zone designation

Springfield is one of two Ohio cities in the competition.

The announcement is expected to be made this spring, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city and neighborhood organization applied for the status in February.

The project is expected to be discussed during a work session at City Commission at 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday.

Springfield is one of two cities in Ohio vying to become a Promise Zone, areas designed to reduce poverty and create opportunities for residents. The other is Lorain, located in Northeast Ohio about 45 minutes east of Cleveland.

Overall, there were 82 applications, including 11 rural and seven tribal applicants. HUD is expected to name five urban communities, while the United States Department of Agriculture is expected to designate one rural and one tribal community.

In prior rounds, finalists have been selected, said Springfield Promise Neighborhood Director Bob Welker. This round, there may be more emphasis on cities under 500,000 population, he said.

“We like our chances,” Welker said.

The Springfield Promise Neighborhood would be expanded to four south side elementary school attendance areas — Lincoln, Perrin Woods, Fulton and Kenwood elementary schools — under the name of the Springfield Promise Zone.

The expansion is expected to happen regardless of the federal designation, said Springfield Promise Neighborhood Director Bob Welker. A meeting between the 10 implementing partners is expected to happen soon, Welker said.

“We don’t want to lose momentum,” he said.

More than one-third of the city’s population could be designated as living in a federal Promise Zone, if approved.

The poverty rate inside the potential area is about 35.5 percent, including some areas at more than 50 percent. About 16 percent of working-age people in the zone are unemployed, while 83.5 percent are underemployed.

The application shows the 10 implementing partners have already committed more than $104 million over the next 10 years for programs already being administered in those neighborhoods — investments that will take place regardless of approval, according to city officials.

“This is a town of great goodwill and we want to make sure we can maximize what good can happen when a lot of people get together with the same purpose,” Welker said.

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