I've taken a browse through the log files, and now I have other questions that I'll ask in another thread.
Right now though, I thought I'd share the outcome, and seeming resolution to my problem with ZA and my design program.
Although I saw where my design program had been blocked from accessing the internet, that had nothing to do with the application not loading. Even when I put ZA in game mode, or even shut off the program firewall altogether, my design program would still hang with ZA turned on. Even after turning off lots of uneccessary services and processes, it still would not load. Only when I shut down ZA altogether would it load...
So, I contacted Tech support about it. Here's what solved my problem (or seems to have). I turned off "On Access Scanning" in the Anti-Virus area, and voila! I have (relatively speaking) instant program loading now. I don't even get time-out issues when outputting machine code for the CAM (computer aided machining).
I've set the virus scan to scan every evening in the wee hours of the morning, so that it's not interfering with normal business. And the hourly check for updates doesn't really seem to bother anything (although ZA really needs to give us more control over that - I'd set it to run every evening also, an hour before the scan) so I've left that alone also.
So I'm a much happier camper now that this program may even work for us... Now to go set it up on everyone else's computer.. maybe.