- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

LONDON, Ky. (AP) - The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded funding to launch the Promise Zone program in eight counties in southeastern Kentucky.

A statement from the organization says the $250,000 grant will allow the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation to begin implementing the program in the counties of Bell, Clay, Harlan, Knox, Leslie, Letcher, Perry and Whitley counties.

President Barack Obama announced in January that the region was one of five that would be targeted for tax incentives and federal grants under a government “Promise Zone” program.

Under the program, the federal government will partner with the communities to create jobs, improve the economy and expand educational opportunities.

ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl said the agency was “pleased to be awarding the very first Promise Zone grant, a $250,000 two-year allocation, to support the work of the Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation as it takes on the leadership role for the Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone initiative.”

“The Promise Zone is an exciting tool in our efforts to transform the economy of Kentucky’s Appalachian region,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement released by ARC. “Promoting partnerships that can help revitalize our communities, investing in job creation, and expanding educational opportunities will make up essential parts of our ongoing Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative. The Promise Zone presents a rare opportunity to accelerate our progress, spark innovation, and empower and support families in eastern Kentucky.”

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