Policy Factsheet

Enterprise Zones

Reasons for Policy

  • Originally, enterprise zones were designed to attract businesses to low-income or underdeveloped areas.1
  • In 2008, there were approximately 3,000 enterprise zones.1

Community Groups

  • Local Government
  • State Government

Policy Components

  • Property and income tax abatements
  • Capital and labor subsidies
  • Job training assistance
  • Infrastructure improvements

Desired Outcomes

  • Increased employment opportunities for people living in the distressed areas
  • Increased number of businesses in economically distressed areas
  • Higher income and lower poverty levels for families residing within the enterprise zone

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • The effectiveness of these programs is mixed. However, generally studies have found that enterprise zones are not effective in helping distressed areas economically.1 More research is needed.


  1. Greenbaum RT, Landers J (2009). Why are state policy makers still proponents of enterprise zones? What explains their action in the face of a preponderance of the research? International Regional Science Review, 32, 466-479.  

  2. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.