Southwest Florida RPC creates Rural Promise Zones


In 2016, the Obama Administration designated a portion of the Southwest Florida Region a Promise Zone. The Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council led the Promise Zone initiative for the region, with partners across local governments and private sectors. The Council hopes to leverage the region’s abundant natural resources and young, able population to make vast improvements throughout the Promise Zone. As the region struggles with a poverty rate of more than 30 percent, leaders are working to jump-start economic activity in the region and improve safety and opportunities for residents.


The primary goals of the Southwest Florida Promise Zone include:

  • Growing jobs by developing an Airglades Industrial Park, Immokalee Airport, and an Americas Gateway Logistics & Manufacturing Training Center
  • Creating eco-tourism attractions and supporting small businesses throughout the region with technical assistance and funding
  • Preventing human trafficking by increasing law enforcement and educating at-risk youth through the “Slave Free” program
  • Improving educational opportunities by expanding the Immokalee Readers Program, the Career Development Program, and the Post-Secondary and Career Success Programs of the Immokalee Foundation
  • Upgrading water and wastewater systems, public transit, roads and street lights throughout the region

Federal technical and financial assistance is available to Promise Zone areas.

For more information, please contact Margaret Wuerstle, Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, at or visit