Kansas Governor Sam Brownback congratulated Kingman County Commissioners for their decision to partner with the state as a Rural Opportunity Zone and authorize their county to participate in the state-matching program to repay student loans of up to $15,000 for college graduates who move to their county.
"I am pleased Kingman County commissioners recognize the direct benefit of partnering with the state to attract college graduates to their community. This aggressive policy move is targeted to grow our shrinking rural counties. Like the Homestead Act, ROZ offers opportunity instead of handpicking winners and losers," Governor Brownback said.
The Rural Opportunity Zone program is designed to reverse dramatic population declines over the past decade in rural areas of Kansas. The program is a central component of the Governor's plan to grow the economy and create jobs. In addition to the student loan repayment program, the new incentive program provides a five-year income tax exemption for certain out-of-state taxpayers who relocate to ROZ-designated counties. Kingman County is one of 50 counties designated as a ROZ.
Kingman County Commission Chairman John Steffen said it just made sense to partner with the state to attract college graduates to their county. The commissioners passed a resolution authorizing the county's participation during their meeting this morning.
"We decided that Rural Opportunity Zone is one way to help reverse the population decline in our county. Kingman County has much to offer by our location for younger citizens to raise their families," Chairman Steffen said.
Kingman County Economic Development Council Executive Director Jane Wallace said they look forward to using the economic development tool.
"The council is extremely excited to add this tool to their recruiting toolbox," Wallace said. "We are grateful that Gov. Brownback and the Legislature identified the need to attract people to rural Kansas and quickly acted in a positive way toward that end. We plan to capitalize on this legislation."
Other ROZs-designated counties are Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, 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.
You can learn more about the ROZ program at www.kansascommerce.com/ruralopportunityzones.