Magazine article Black Enterprise

Time to Live Up to the Hype

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Time to Live Up to the Hype

Article excerpt

The multibillion dollar federal Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Program is being touted as a holistic approach to revitalizing economically poor areas. The zones, which functioned on a state-by-state level during the Republican reign, are now a critical element of the Clinton administration's redevelopment plan.

State agencies around the country are preparing to submit plans this month to federal agencies. But many critics wonder if the designated zones will deliver what they promise in terms of jobs and business opportunities, especially for blacks. (See "Will Clinton's Urban Policy Program Really Work?" BE Board of Economists Report, this issue.)

The 10-year designated zones are expected to be more effective than earlier versions because of the community-based approach to strategic planning that's a part of the application, says Michael Savage, deputy director of HUD's Office of Economic Development.

The applications are due by June 30 and the nominations are expected to be announced this fall. Federal agencies anticipate at least 500 applications for the much-coveted six urban and three rural spots.

The competition has been so fierce in New York City, for instance, that congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-NY) had been at odds with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani over where the zone should be.

Rangel has been a chief sponsor of empowerment zones and wants one in Harlem. Giuliani originally supported the idea, but later endorsed an empowerment zone that included portions of Harlem and the South Bronx. …

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