Community Development:

The American Community Renewal Act of 1998

T-RCED-98-263: Published: Aug 19, 1998. Publicly Released: Aug 19, 1998.

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Judy A. England Joseph
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GAO discussed the targeting of community development benefits included in H.R. 3865, the American Community Renewal Act of 1998, as well as to share lessons learned from the early implementation of the community development program that created Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities.

GAO noted that: (1) out of nearly 59,000 census tracts nationwide, 4,323 meet the bill's economic distress criteria, according to GAO's analysis of 1990 census data; (2) of these distressed tracts, 1,354 are in rural areas, 2,535 in urban areas, and 434 in mixed urban/rural areas; (3) 19 percent of these census tracts are located in an Empowerment Zone or Enterprise Community; (4) more than half of the local, state, and federal officials involved in implementing the Empowerment Zone program who responded to a survey that GAO conducted in 1996 agreed on the factors that had either helped or hindered their efforts to implement the program; (5) for example, they identified factors such as community representation within the governance structures and enhanced communication among stakeholders as helping the program's implementation; and (6) similarly, preexisting relationships among Empowerment Zone stakeholders and pressure for quick results were identified as hindering the program's implementation.

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