The Kansas Department of Commerce just announced that 43 counties have joined the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program. A total of 50 Kansas counties are eligible. The Department has received 158 applications from individuals across the country.
The program has two main incentives:
- A state income tax exemption for up to five years to individuals who move to a ROZs county from outside the state. Individuals must not have lived in Kansas for the past five years, nor have Kansas source income of more than $10,000 per year over the past five years.
- Student loan forgiveness of up to $3,000 per year ($15,000 maximum benefit) for individuals who graduate from an accredited post-secondary institution and move to a ROZs county.
Chautauqua, Gove and Pawnee counties have joined the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) student loan reimbursement partnership in the past month, bringing to 43 the number of counties participating.
“I’m pleased to have Chautauqua, Gove and Pawnee counties included as part of the program,” said Kansas Commerce Secretary Pat George. “We continue to strong interest in the program as we get ready to welcome the first participants starting in 2012.”
The Department has received 158 applications from across the country. The ROZs program offers student loan reimbursement of up to $3,000 per year for five years for individuals that graduate from an accredited post-secondary college or technical school. In addition, people moving from out-of-state could be eligible for 100 percent state income tax reimbursement, if they have lived outside of Kansas for at least the past five years and have had Kansas source income of less than $10,000 per year over the past five years.
The counties participating in student loan program, so far, are Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Decatur, Edwards, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mitchell, Morton, Ness, Norton, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Thomas, Trego, Wallace, Wichita and Woodson.
“Recognizing that our biggest struggle is the ‘outmigration’ of people, Gove County is thrilled to be able to be a part of the Rural Opportunity Zones program,” said Ericka Gillespie, chairwoman of the Citizens for the Economic Development of Gove County and city administrator for Quinter. “Our commitment to ROZs is a clear message that not only reflects how the Kansas Legislature feels about rural Kansas, but how counties like Gove can take the opportunity to invest in themselves by adding student loan repayment into their incentive packages to bring people into their regions. Our wish is that people looking at rural Kansas will hear a message that we want them here, and we are willing to do our part to help them move into an area of the state we feel is extraordinary in many ways.”
The application form for the student loan repayment program is available online on the Department’s website at KansasCommerce.com/RuralOpportunityZones. A printed version of the form can be requested by contacting Dan Lara, public information officer for the Department, at (785) 296-3760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The state tax exemption is entirely state financed, so all ROZs-designated counties are automatic participants in that part of the program, and there is not a formal application procedure. Questions about the tax exemption should be directed to the Department of Revenue at (785) 368-8222.
The program designates 50 counties as ROZs counties. In addition to those already listed above, the others are Comanche, Elk, Osborne, Republic, Sheridan, Washington and Wilson.