Racine’s unemployment rate has improved, but it’s still one of the highest in the state and the question remains: How does Racine fix its poverty problem?

A town hall meeting will be held to ask residents that very question from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Gateway Technical College, 1001 Main St. The meeting will be held in Huron Room in the Racine Building.

Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave, Rep. Cory Mason, Racine Mayor John Dickert, and Gateway President Bryan Albrecht want to establish the area as a Promise Zone. Introduced during the 2013 State of the Union address by President Barack Obama, Promise Zones are communities in urban, rural and tribal areas with high poverty and unemployment rates where local agencies can be more easily connected with federal grant money.

Promise Zones focus on building private-public initiatives that create jobs, leverage private investment, increase economic activity, expand educational opportunities, and reduce violent crime.

Being identified as a Promise Zone means area agencies have the ability to apply to the federal government through a shortened grant making process. The designation would include parts of Racine and Mount Pleasant. Last year Racine and Mount Pleasant applied for the grant, but they weren’t chosen. However, they missed qualifying for the designation by two points.

“We were encouraged by how well we did last year,” Mason said. “It made sense to apply again and Monday we’re hoping to have a community-wide conversation about how to discuss these issues in the framework of the Promise Zone.”





Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.