Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Gert-Jan de Vreede, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jennifer Cainas, DBA

Committee Member

Delroy Hunter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Dirk Libaers, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Gilbert Gonzalez, Ph.D.


Rural Enterprise Zone, Enterprise Zone, Economic Development District, Economic Development Strategy, Housing and Urban Development, Rural Development, Smart Rural Development, Rural Incubator, Empowerment Zone, Enterprise Community, Entrepreneuer, Opportunity Zone and Promise Zone


This research provides information about Economic Development Zones (EDZ) to help the reader understand these programs. For a business owner they are able to make informed decisions about the merits of these programs and decide whether it makes sense for them to relocate their businesses to Florida’s Economic Development Zones. What most readers do not know is that these programs and the operating condition of an Economic Development Zone can offer benefits to a business owner, allowing them to reduce their operating expenses and the cost of doing business.

Over the past several years, the researcher discussed foreign trade opportunities with different individuals. One of these conversations was with the sale director of a company located at Sebring Airfield and Intermodal Facility in Sebring, Florida. In this discussion, the benefits of locating a business in an Economic Development Zone, within an economically depressed rural area of Florida, was introduced. This conversation led to researching what it takes to relocate or operate a business in Economic Development Zones located in rural areas.

The basic purpose in creating an EDZ through local, state, and federal government agencies is to reduce unemployment in depressed areas of the United States. This goal is accomplished by incentivizing businesses to create jobs and make capital investments in those areas. Different levels of government offer incentives to companies for relocating or expanding their businesses by creating Economic Zones. The incentives for relocating, expanding, or starting a business in an EDZ can be very lucrative.

Businesses look for every opportunity to reduce their operating expenses by reducing the cost of doing business. Through incentives and tax breaks, a business could reduce its yearly operating costs making them more competitive. The goal of companies is to reduce their overhead and the government goal is to create jobs which should be mutually supportive, yet it is not the case. This lack of awareness is a major contributing factor for why these programs are not successful.

From prior research conducted during a literature review, there is very little information about these programs beyond government webpages. With the rapid turnover of programs due to the political election cycle, there is little current information on the most recent EDZ except what is offered at the Federal level.

One of the challenges in starting operations in an EDZ is the identification of the different stakeholders for federal, state and local programs. The lines of communication and the delineation of responsibilities between the federal government, state, and local development councils can be very confusing. In order to navigate between the different programs a business owner needs to understand how support flows down to the local agencies.

An interest trend from this research, is a clear lack of awareness about these programs. Most business leaders are not aware of their local economic development office and only a few businesses had received any benefits from this organization. There is a need for better awareness about these opportunities.

After reading these articles, a business leader is able to make informed decisions about the merits of these programs and decide whether it makes sense for them to relocate or expand their businesses to Florida’s Economic Development Zones.