East Side Alive Promise Zone

The City of Saint Paul is partnering with Dayton’s Bluff Community Council and other Organizational Stakeholders on an application for an Urban Promise Zone Designation, focusing on job creation, economic development activities, and related goals. The East Side community has a lot already in place that can be harnessed for the application. Our forward momentum in economic development puts us in a positive position for designation as a Promise Zone.

As noted in a letter from St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and St. Paul City Council President Kathy Lantry, “The East Side is on the move! New businesses are opening. Award winning ideas are gaining traction. Even the dust and disruption of new construction are being welcomed as signs that there are big changes in our midst. While there is much to celebrate, we don’t dare stop.  Now’s the time to keep our foot on the accelerator.”

We couldn't agree more!

About the Promise Zones Initiative

The Promise Zones initiative is a program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that seeks to revitalize high-poverty communities across the country by creating jobs, increasing economic activity, improving educational opportunities, reducing serious and violent crime, leveraging private capital, and assisting local leaders in navigating federal programs and cutting through red tape.

More details about the Promise Zone Initiative Second Round are available here.

Benefits as a Promise Zone Designee

For a term of at least 10 years, designated Promise Zones receive a package of federal assistance to help local leaders accelerate efforts to revitalize their communities. Specifically:

  • Federal staff is assigned to help navigate the array of existing Federal assistance and programs.
  • Eligible applicants in the Promise Zone will receive any available (a) preference for certain competitive Federal programs and (b) technical assistance.
  • Subject to enactment by Congress, businesses investing in Promise Zones or hiring residents of Promise Zones will be eligible to receive tax incentives.
  • Additional specific benefits may be available based on changes to Federal agency policies, appropriations and authorizations.

Promise Zone Structure

The officially responsible parties of the Promise Zone include the City of Saint Paul as the Lead Organization(s), official Implementation Partners (identified via a Memorandum of Understanding), and federal grantees whose funded work is in the Promise Zone. Implementation Partners are one of the most important members of the Promise Zone.  They are organizations that agree to fulfill specific responsibilities in carrying out the daily work and operations of the Promise Zone Plan.

pz_mapTarget Geographic Area

The target geographic area must meet federal guidelines. The tentative area encompasses a contiguous section of Saint Paul, MN East Side neighborhoods. Residents here are experiencing some of the largest racial disparities in the country.


We will adhere to key principles of equity and collaboration as much as possible while arriving at important decisions.  Prior to the November 21, 2014 deadline, we intend to:

  • Draft an application that leverages existing assets, trends, investments and energy in the East Side community;
  • Engage organizations in decision-making for the application. We will hold four decision-making meetings with a group of organizational leaders, managers, and technical experts.
  • Contract with experts who have demonstrated ability to collaborate, move fast and deliver quality product.
  • Community engagement will occur at some level after submitting the application, most likely through the work of the East Side Growth Initiative or other partners. We value community input and participation in decision-making very highly, but the timeline to develop the application is much too short to involve the general public at this time. We will, instead, rely heavily on organizations representing or serving individual community stakeholders – especially in different racial and ethnic communities - to act as strong advocates for their constituency.
  • Conduct an application development process that positions the organizations involved to achieve the selected goals regardless of whether we receive the Promise Zone designation.

The Promise Zone Application will be one important economic development plan for a select section of Saint Paul’s East Side. The geography selected meets guidelines established by the federal government for this initiative. With a maximum time span of 10 years, the plan proposed by the application also coordinates with relevant documents such as the Saint Paul comprehensive plan, the East Metro Strong plan, Metropolitan Council plans, and other long-range plans.


Thank you to The Saint Paul Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, F. R. Bigelow Foundation, LISC Twin Cities, The McKnight Foundation, and The McNeely Foundation for funding this application development effort.