Obama pledges help for West Philly neighborhood

President Barack Obama Promise Zones
President Barack Obama is expected to announce Philadelphia as one of five “Promise Zones” on Thursday.
Credit: Reuters

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that help is on the way.

“In Philly, nearly four out of every 10 kids lives below [the] poverty line,” Obama said, “and a lot of them are on the west side of the city.”

Philadelphia has been chosen as one of five “promise zones” — a designation that helps cities get better shots at federal grants to help grow businesses, stop crime and educate its children. Tax incentives will also be offered for business expansions and job creations.

Of some plans of the neighborhood, Obama said local universities, such as Drexel, have offered to help connect middle and high school students with mentors to get them ready for college. And a supermarket is being planned “that will create jobs and provide healthy food where there’s been too little of both.”

“We’re gonna invest in that,” Obama added.

San Antonio, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma were the other areas chosen for federal tax incentives and grants to aid in tackling poverty.

Mayor Michael Nutter, who was at the White House for Obama’s announcement, said in a statement Wednesday that the selection is an important step for the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia which is “struggling with high poverty, high crime, high vacancy, low educational attainment and low employment rates.”

“These are neighborhoods where we will help local efforts to meet one national goal: that a child’s course in life should be determined not by the zip code she’s born in but by the strength of her work ethic and the scope of her dreams,” Obama said.

The Promise Zone

The Mantua neighborhood promise zone is home to more than 35,000 people.

More than half of the residents in this area live in poverty and about 15 percent are unemployed.

Philadelphia’s poverty rate — about 400,000 out of 1.5 million — is the highest of any major city.

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