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Highlights

The Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community (EZ/EC) program is one of the most recent large-scale federal effort intended to revitalize impoverished urban and rural communities. There have been three rounds of EZs and two rounds of ECs, all of which are scheduled to end no later than December 2009. The Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000 mandated that GAO audit and report in 2004, 2007, and 2010 on the EZ/EC program and its effect on poverty, unemployment, and economic growth. This report, which focuses on the first round of the program starting in 1994, discusses program implementation; program oversight; data available on the use of program tax benefits; and the program's effect on poverty, unemployment, and economic growth. In conducting this work, GAO made site visits to all Round I EZs, conducted an e-mail survey of 60 Round I ECs, and used several statistical methods to analyze program effects.

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