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enterprise zone

enterprise zone, designated geographical district in which resident businesses are legally entitled to receive special benefits from a government, established in economically depressed areas to encourage companies to locate there. Most states enacted enterprise zone programs during the 1980s, and changes in the federal tax code in 1993 instituted tax incentives for businesses in certain locations, sometimes referred to as empowerment zones. Typical incentives offered to attract businesses to enterprise zones include tax credits, subsidized loans, and reduced regulations. Although usually associated with urban areas, enterprise zones have also been set up in rural areas. Most enterprise zones have only been marginally successful in reviving the areas in which they are located, in part because businesses located in such zones often employ workers who live outside the area. A similar program is the opportunity zone program under the Trump administration, which offers tax breaks for investments in state-designated urban, suburban, and rural census tracts that have high levels of poverty or border areas with high levels of poverty. The opportunity zone program has been criticized for including some areas that are not economically distressed.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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