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Spokane Tribe Promise Zone

The Spokane tribe will soon have more chances to battle poverty, through an announcement made at the White House Monday. The tribe was selected to be one of nine nationwide to be declared a “Promise Zone.”

The designation by the Obama administration of the Spokane reservation and tribal trust lands in Airway Heights and Chewelah as a Promise Zone is good news for the tribe, which has unemployment levels as high as 45 percent.

The tribal Chairwoman Carol Evans says they applied to get the designation, focusing on five areas where efforts could best be made to improve conditions on Spokane tribal lands. “To create jobs, to improve educational opportunities...increase economic activity, reduce crime, and increase access to affordable housing."

Evans says while the designation does not specifically provide money for those goals, it will make it easier to get financing for such projects: “we will go out and apply for grants, apply for funding from foundations, apply for maybe tax-credit dollars, and what this designation does is it give us some preference in those application processes.”

Among the specifics the tribe is looking at, energy efficient, low income housing, expanding broadband access for education, formal accreditation of the Spokane Tribal college, and a special corporation to expand solar energy.