Spokane Tribe Selected for "Promise Zone" Designation
Last June, The Spokane Tribe was selected to be designated a “Promise Zone,” a title bestowed on only twenty two communities nationwide. The designation gives them preferential opportunities when applying for federal grants.
So far that designation has allowed the tribe to secure a million dollars for a suicide prevention program.
Tribal economic development director Mike Tedesco says it’s not just the tribe that will benefit from the designation, but also communities that partner with the tribe. He cites the example of Airway Heights, where the tribe is building its new hotel and casino project:
“Airway Heights is reaching capacity challenges for their sewer treatment facility, and their water treatment facility, and they need more water, so an opportunity exists for Airway Heights to apply for funding to increase capacity, and that will directly benefit us because of all the programs we have going on in Airway Heights.” Tedesco says discussions are underway about applying for funding from federal agencies like EPA for those improvements.
Tribal business chairwoman Carol Evans says other projects that could come to fruition with anticipated federal funding include new ways to generate power on the reservation:
“We’re an indigenous people, so we care about the environment. Part of the Promise Zone is a renewable energy component. Whether we’re developing solar power or biodiesel, we’re looking at things that are good to the environment. We’ve actually applied for grants to do feasibility studies on those types of projects.”
The tribe is also looking to fund improvements to education, crime reduction, and more jobs for the community. The Promise Zone designation will run for ten years.