Introduced in 1993, the Empowerment Zone (EZ), Enterprise Community (EC) , and Renewal Community (RC) Initiatives sought to reduce unemployment and generate economic growth through the designation of Federal tax incentives and award of grants to distressed communities. Local, Tribal, and State governments interested in participating in this program were required to present comprehensive plans that included the following principles:
- Strategic Visions for Change,
- Community-Based Partnerships,
- Economic Opportunities, and
- Sustainable Community Development.
Communities selected to participate in this program embraced these principles and led projects that promoted economic development in their distressed communities.
The EZ/EC initiative was implemented in the form of three competitions authorized by Congress in 1994 (round I), 1998 (round II), and 2001 (round III). These communities utilized HUD’s PERMS system to create Implementation Plans and develop Annual Reports, which can be publically accessed here and overall, display extensive community and economic development impacts in these distressed communities.
The EC designation expired in 2004 and EZ and RC designations generally expired at the end of 2009. However, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-312 extended the Empowerment Zone and DC Enterprise Zone designations to December 31, 2011.
Following the end of the EZ designation extension on December 31, 2011, the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) of 2012, signed into law by President Obama on January 2, 2013, provided for an extension of the Empowerment Zone designations until December 31, 2013. The ATRA of 2012 did not extend the designation of the DC Enterprise Zone.
For the EZ designation extension, IRS Notice 2013-38 issued on May 29, 2013 (see link under the “What’s New” heading on the left) explained a one step process stating that “any nomination for an Empowerment Zone that was in effect on December 31, 2009, is deemed amended to provide for a new termination date of December 31, 2013, unless the nominating entity sends written notification to the IRS by July 29, 2013.”
For a list of all active EZ communities and up to date contact information please visit the EZ Communities webpage.