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Empowerment Zones And Enterprise Communities

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Under the Clinton administration's "empowerment zones'' initiative, more than 100 economically struggling areas across the country are receiving different levels of federal assistance to improve community services and encourage business investment. All of the zones and communities are to get "priority consideration" for various federal programs and special help in bypassing federal regulations and red tape that hinder comprehensive strategies. A community-empowerment board, chaired by Vice President Al Gore and including the heads of 15 federal agencies, is coordinating the effort.

Empowerment Zones

The nine urban and rural communities designated as "empowerment zones" are each receiving between $40 million and $100 million in flexible block grants. Businesses in the zones also receive an array of tax credits and deductions for capital investments.

Urban zones: Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, New York, and the Philadelphia/Camden, N.J., area.

Rural zones: Kentucky Highlands, the Mid-Delta region of Mississippi, and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

Supplemental Empowerment Zones

Cleveland and Los Angeles--two cities designated as "supplemental empowerment zones"--are receiving $90 million and $125 million, respectively, in economic-development grants, but no tax assistance.

Enterprise Communities

Ninety-five areas designated as "enterprise communities" receive about $3 million each in grants and access to tax-exempt bond financing for private business activities.

Enhanced Enterprise Communities

Boston, Houston, Oakland, and the Kansas City, Kan./Kansas City, Mo., area also were designated as "enhanced enterprise communities." They are receiving economic-development grants of $22 million or more each and the same tax benefits as the other enterprise communities.

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