For over six decades Washington has heatedly debated the degree of intervention it should have in economic development policy. The discord at the federal level has resulted in the absence of a coherent national policy to confront economic misfortune.
In a very volatile and rapidly changing world the United States can no longer afford to function without a theoretical basis in this important policy realm. In the first wholehearted attempt to synthesize economic development at the national level, the Clinton Administration and the 103rd Congress passed the Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community Act of 1993. The Act approved the designation of nine Empowerment Zones and 95 Enterprise Communities.
The Rio Grande Valley of Texas was chosen as a rural Empowerment Zone. The economic, political and cultural characteristics of the area provide one of the toughest testing grounds for the program. How the program fares in the Rio Grand Valley and what policy makers do with that information will determine the success of Empowerment Zone/Enterprise Community as a comprehensive tool for national economic development.