Pensacola officials announced Monday that the city had not been selected by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a Promise Zone designation.
The city had partnered with Escambia County, the Escambia County School District, Pensacola State College, and the University of West Florida to apply for the designation, which officials said would have provided additional resources to the community in order to create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.
“Obviously I am disappointed that we were not selected, but I want to reiterate my support for initiatives to lift blighted and underprivileged neighborhoods in our community,” said Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward. “I will continue to support the vision and mission of Achieve Escambia to ensure that every generation achieves success, to champion our Community Redevelopment Agency programs to promote revitalization in the Eastside, Westside, and Urban Core Districts, and to promote job growth and workforce readiness programs to secure opportunities like VT MAE,” referencing the Singaporean company which is expected to create up to 300 new jobs with a facility at Pensacola International Airport.
Pensacola’s proposal had been selected as a finalist, which officials said reflected the strength of the proposal. Promise Zone Finalists will have the opportunity to participate in HUD’s Community Needs Assessment (CNA) initiative, modeled after the Strong Cities and Strong Communities program. The city and its partner organizations will participate in the CNA initiative in October and will determine what can be done to advance the priority projects that were identified in the Promise Zone application. Prior to that, city staff and representatives from the partner agencies expect to conduct a debrief with HUD about the application and to learn more about potential alternative programs that may be of benefit to the community.