Lane, Rooks, Russell, Scott and Woodson counties adopted Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) resolutions this week becoming full partners in the state’s effort to revitalize rural areas of Kansas.
“I congratulate the county commissions and economic development partners in Lane, Rooks, Russell, Scott and Woodson counties,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “These counties are in the vanguard of our efforts to recruit more people into rural Kansas and expand economic growth, which is a top priority for the Brownback Administration.”
With the adoption of the resolutions, individuals who move to one of these counties after July 1 can qualify to have 20 percent of their student loans repaid (up to $3,000 per year for up to five years) by the county and state, if the individuals graduated from an accredited post-secondary institution.
“So often today we give lip service to bringing our youth back to our small communities, but our actions don’t always back up our conversations,” said Roger Hrabe, Rooks County Economic Development Director. “The Rooks County Commission has been proactive in moving forward with the Rural Opportunity Zones tuition reimbursement program as a way to encourage our young people to explore opportunities in our county. Despite the struggle with population loss over the last few decades, our county has experienced an inflow of young people in recent years. They are anxious to raise their families in a safe, energetic, and progressive environment. Our hope is to build on that momentum through the Rural Opportunity Zones program.”
The five counties join Kingman County, which joined the ROZs program on May 31. Official application forms will be available from the Department of Commerce on or before July 1. More information on the program can be found at KansasCommerce.com/RuralOpportunityZones or by contacting Dan Lara, Public Information Officer for the Department at (785) 296-3760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ROZs program also provides a state income tax exemption for up to five years to individuals who relocate to a ROZs county from out of state. Counties do not need to opt in for individuals to participate in this portion of the program.
The program designates 50 counties as ROZs counties. They are Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mitchell, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Trego, Thomas, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, Wilson and Woodson.