Institute Director of Research Doug Noonan quoted in Bloomberg Businessweek

January 28, 2014

The idea of giving business owners incentives to combat unemployment, failing schools, and urban blight began as a conservative reaction to the welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. Over the years it’s taken different forms with similar names. Before Obama’s promise zones and Clinton’s empowerment zones, George H.W. Bush’s housing secretary, Jack Kemp, zealously promoted enterprise zones, which cut taxes and reduced regulations for companies in struggling neighborhoods. In December, Kentucky Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell introduced legislation for a similar set of breaks they’re calling “economic freedom zones.”

Other researchers say it’s too early to draw conclusions about the long-term impact of the empowerment zones program, which ended in 2009. Douglas Noonan of Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute in Indianapolis measured results from the first round of Clinton funding in 1994 and found an initial uptick in employment and wages. “It wasn’t earth-shattering, but there was an appreciable effect,” he says, adding more study is needed to say whether those improvements persisted. To read Drs.Krupka and Noonan's research article, "Empowerment Zones, neighborhood change and owner-occupied housing" click here.  To read the gated version, click here.