White House picks first five economic ‘Promise Zones’

President Obama on Thursday will unveil the first five so-called economic "Promise Zones" -- areas where the administration will focus on creating jobs and cutting poverty, a White House official said.

The official said chosen areas are: San Antonio, Texas; Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Southeastern Kentucky; and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The White House has said the initiative will focus on reducing crime in high-poverty areas, attracting private investment to replace "distressed" housing with "mixed-income" housing, ensuring that more students graduate from high school and providing tax incentives to stimulate economic growth.

Obama announced the initiative during last year's State of the Union Address.

At Thursday's announcement, which will take place in the East Room of the White House, Obama will be joined by politicians and people from the five selected geographic regions.

Update 1:18 p.m.: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) releases a statement:

“I’m pleased the administration has decided to grant Eastern Kentucky the promise zone designation it deserves. I wrote a letter last year supporting this designation because this region has suffered enormous economic hardship over the last several years. Thousands of jobs have been lost and economic opportunity is extremely limited, particularly because of this administration’s hostile policies toward the coal industry.”

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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