7 CFR 25.404 - Validation of designation.
(a) Maintaining the principles of the program. The empowerment zone, enterprise community or champion community (the designated community) must maintain a process for ensuring ongoing broad-based participation by community residents consistent with the approved application and planning process outlined in the strategic plan.
(1) Continuous improvement. The designated community must maintain a process for evaluating and learning from its experiences. It must detail the methods by which the community will assess its own performance in implementing its benchmarks, the process it will use for reviewing goals and benchmarks and revising its strategic plan.
(2) Participation. The designated community must develop as part of its strategic plan a written plan for assuring continuous broad-based community participation in the implementation of the strategic plan and the means by which the strategic plan is implemented, including board membership in the lead entity and other key partnership entities.
(b) Administration of the strategic plan. The strategic plan must be administered in a manner consistent with the principles of the program contained in § 25.202(a).
(2) Capacity. The lead entity must have the capacity to implement the strategic plan, as demonstrated by audited financial statements as of the most recent fiscal year or other documentation that may be requested by USDA.
(3) Board membership. The membership of the board must be representative of the entire socio-economic spectrum in the designated community including business, social service agencies, health and education entities, low income and minority residents. Board membership may be determined by either broad-based election or by appointment to meet this diversity requirement; however, not more than 45 percent of board members may be selected by appointment. Elections of community residents to the board may be done by any locally acceptable process; however, at least one board member from each of the designated community's census tracts must be elected and representative of the low income residents in their census tract. The Deputy Administrator, Office of Community Development, may waive the 45 percent maximum appointment limit only for Tribal Governmental Organizations where the Deputy Administrator determines, in writing, that a more representative board would be obtained through the appointment process.
(4) Partnerships. The relationship between the designated community's lead entity board and local governments and other major regional and community organizations operating in the same geographic area is critical to the community's success in implementing its strategic plan. Every effort should be made to identify and maintain relationships with local partners. Documentation including, but not limited to, minutes of meetings, benchmark activity reports and annual reports of the lead entity must reflect the contributions of local partnership entities.
(5) Public information. The designated community must have written procedures in place describing the means by which citizens of the community and partnership organizations will be kept informed of the community's activities and progress in implementing the strategic plan, consistent with the principal objective of community based partnerships pursuant to § 25.202(a)(2). These procedures must be kept current and compliance with them documented on an ongoing basis.
(c) Reevaluation of designations. On the basis of the performance reviews described in § 25.402, and subject to the provisions relating to the revocation of designation appearing at § 25.405, USDA will make findings as to the continuing eligibility for and the validity of the designation of any Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Community, or Champion Community.
(d) Modification of designation. Based on a rural zone or community's success in carrying out its strategic plan, and subject to the provisions relating to revocation of designation in accordance with § 25.405 and the requirements as to the number, maximum population and other characteristics of rural Empowerment Zones referenced in § 25.100, the Secretary may modify designations by reclassifying rural Empowerment Zones as Enterprise Communities or Enterprise Communities as Empowerment Zones.