ALLENDALE, S.C. | More than 50 partners and supporters of the South Carolina Lowcountry Promise Zone on Wednesday witnessed the strong commitment of the federal government for working with them to reduce poverty and grow economic opportunity in the six-county region.
“We want to ensure the federal government is a good partner,” said Vernita F. Dore, a South Carolina native who serves as deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the state’s Promise Zone. “There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”
Danny Black, president and CEO of the SouthernCarolina Alliance, said Mrs. Dore’s appearance in Allendale underscored the possibilities available through the Promise Zone designation.
“To have a federal official of her ability and stature come home to encourage our partners and supporters to engage now is a testament to how the Promise Zone designation can significantly and positively impact our region by growing jobs and increasing economic opportunities,” Black said at the meeting on the campus of USC-Salkehatchie.
During Wednesday’s session, partners and supporters of the Zone learned about making grant applications to the 12 federal agencies that offer more than 40 existing programs that participate in the designation program. Applicants who seek funding for grants that benefit the 90,000 people who live in the six-county zone can get special access to funding for qualified projects.
“We challenge you to think creatively,” Mrs. Dore said, encouraging organizations to seek funding for transformational opportunities. “I challenge you to keep on working to meet the needs in order to change the lives of people in South Carolina.”
Part of Wednesday’s session also was devoted to working with a partner from the University of South Carolina to develop a long-term strategy to focus efforts on transformational change. In coming weeks, partners will meet in small groups to craft and hone strategies to seek federal assistance for economic development, health care, education, crime reduction and more.
The South Carolina Lowcountry Promise Zone, a project of the SouthernCarolina Alliance, seeks to catalyze efforts in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties to boost the quality of life and revitalize rural communities.