Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1995


The federal government recently designated six empowerment zones in selected urban areas as an urban revitalization demonstration program. The program is derived from the enterprise zone strategy promoted by former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp that sought to address urban poverty by encouraging business growth through deregulation and tax incentives. The Clinton administration modified the original concept and now refers to the target areas as empowerment zones. As the definitions of "enterprise" and "empower" indicate, renaming the zones reflects a significant shift in emphasis-from a focus on stimulating business enterprise through reducing regulation to one in which regulation is used to enable local governments and communities to devise and implement their own collaborative approaches to human, economic, and community development.

This article reviews the process by which enterprise zones became empowerment zones and the program benefits available to urban empowerment zones. I also discuss the innovative aspects of the program's recent implementation and its implications for significant community participation in planning and development.