The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has been selected as one of the first five organizations to test a new anti-poverty program to improve life in chronically poor areas.
The Oklahoman reports the tribe will create a Promise Zone in an economically challenged area in southeastern Oklahoma and use community groups, businesses and schools to focus on specific education and economic development goals.
The designation is expected to give the communities priority for grants, on-site help from federal officials and, if Congress approves, business tax breaks for hiring employees.
Tribal spokeswoman Judy Allen says the tribe's proposed zone includes several tracts in Atoka, Bryan, Coal, Choctaw, Haskell, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha counties. The zone has a poverty rate of 22.6 percent, seven points above the national average.