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JOBZ: General Overview

What is JOBZ?

The acronym JOBZ stands for Job Opportunity Building Zones, Minnesota's most recent enterprise zone program. The 2003 Legislature enacted the JOBZ program in response to a proposal by then-Governor Tim Pawlenty.

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How do enterprise zone programs work?

Enterprise zone programs are designed to stimulate economic development in designated geographic areas (the enterprise zones). To be designated as a zone, an area typically must meet criteria of economic distress or decline, such as high unemployment, declining population or income, deteriorating tax bases, and so forth. The designated areas typically qualify for special tax incentives and may qualify for reduced or streamlined government regulation. The theory is that these incentives will attract new investment in or migration to the zone, improving the economic condition of its residents, and making better use of existing infrastructure.

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What is the history of enterprise zone programs?

Enterprise zone programs were proposed in the 1970s and were first adopted in England. The federal government and many states have adopted enterprise zone programs. Minnesota adopted its first enterprise zone program in 1983. This program ended in the early 1990s. The federal government adopted its first enterprise zone program in 1993 and has modified and expanded it several times since. President Bush proposed expanding federal enterprise zones in 2004. The federal government also used an enterprise zone-style program ("Gulf Opportunity Zone") to respond to Hurrican Katrina in 2005.

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Are enterprise zone programs used for urban and/or rural areas?

Enterprise zone programs have been used for both urban and rural sites. Minnesota's first program was and the federal programs are targeted at both types of areas. By contrast, JOBZ is limited mainly to more rural areas; it does not permit designation of zones within the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. However, JOBZ designations have been made in smaller metropolitan areas, such as Rochester and Duluth.

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July 2014

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