Baltimore Gets Empowerment Right

In 1997, Lola Lewis, 55, was working as a copy machine technician at a school in Baltimore. She enjoyed her job, but it didn’t offer any benefits. Lewis had been searching for the next open door for a while. Then she heard about an opportunity to be trained at Chesapeake Biological Labs, which offered a good opportunity to land a job with benefits. The program was only available to Baltimore residents in the Empowerment Zone, a federal program that provided distressed neighborhoods–”initially, in six large cities–”with tax credits for businesses and $100 million in social service block grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 1994.