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First adopted in 1993 at the federal level, the original purpose of Empowerment Zones was to encourage economic development strategies aimed at revitalizing distressed US urban neighborhoods. Such strategies across the country would include four broad goals: to generate economic opportunities for residents living in the empowerment zones; to create sustainable community development; to build broad participation among community-based partners; and to generate a strategic vision for change in the community. This paper examines Boston’s Empowerment Zone between 1999 and 2009. The author concludes that this initiative was successful in that it helped to revitalize some of the poorest neighborhood areas in this city. While the rate of poverty was not reduced between 2000 and 2009 inside Boston’s Empowerment Zone, there were some notable successes. These include the initiation and completion of major capital projects, including the first Black-owned hotel in New England over several decades; assisting small and neighborhood-based businesses, and helping to expand the capacity of local nonprofits in Boston’s distressed areas. These accomplishments increased the level and quality of economic activity in a part of Boston that was essentially overlooked before the initiation of the Empowerment Zone.
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- The Empowerment Zone in Boston, Massachusetts 2000–2009: Lessons Learned for Neighborhood Revitalization
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