Rethinking Empowerment: Evidence from Local Empowerment Zone Programs Open Access

The legacy of the federal government's Empowerment Zone initiative is contested. The evidence undergirding the initiative's legacy, however, is based primarily on models that estimate national effects. We use an alternative evaluation strategy that places greater emphasis on local Empowerment Zones as distinct programs. Our findings show that several cities did produce improvements that likely can be attributed to the EZ initiative. The results, however, are not consistent across outcomes or cities. Our findings suggest that what happens locally is a vital concern for federal urban policy and also informative for local communities with responsibility for crafting and executing revitalization strategies.

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