County again to be a designated Rural Opportunity Zone

Updated: Mar 4

MOUND CITY – Linn County Economic Director Jessica Hightower met with the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Jan. 31, to ask them to make a resolution to participate as a Rural Opportunity Zone (ROZ). Counties need to renew their participation in this program yearly.

Hightower said that employers could use the ROZ as a recruiting tool. She said the county had to pass this resolution or no entity in the county could use the funds. She also pointed out that the county did not need to allocate funds as they have not in the past.

“It’s a great program and I don’t understand why we don’t use it and the public doesn’t get it out more,” said Commissioner Rick James. “We could use it for ourselves when we hire people, but we aren’t doing anything about it. I think we should put some funds into it.”

Hightower said the deadline last year was June 30 but was changed to Jan. 31 this year. The commissioners approved the resolution to participate but did not allocate funds toward it.

According to a Kansas Department of Commerce (KDC) flyer, the ROZ program was created to bring new people to counties who are experiencing depopulation problems. The programs provides monetary incentives for people moving in to these counties.

ROZ programs provide up to a five-year, 100 percent personal Kansas income tax credit as well as up to $15,000 in student loan debt forgiveness.

The income tax waiver is administered by the revenue department. The applicant files it with their state taxes on the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR) website. To be eligible for the state income tax credits, a person must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have lived outside of Kansas for five or more years immediately prior to establishing residency in a ROZ.

  • Must have no more than $10,000 in Kansas source income in each of those 5 years prior to establishing residency.

  • Must establish residency in one of the ROZ counties on or after the date the county was qualified for the program.

  • Must have lived in the ROZ county the entire taxable year to be able to claim the tax credit Jan. 1 to Dec. 31.

  • Must File State income taxes online at

Student Loan Repayment assistance is administered by the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDC) which partners with counties and employers. The incentive amount is distribution up to 20 percent of the qualified loans with a maximum benefit of $3,000 once a year for 5 years totaling $15,000.

The funding for the student loan repayment assistance is covered by the state for 50 percent of the yearly payment. This is funded through lottery funds. Local sponsors fund the other 50 percent of the yearly payment. The sponsors annual financial contribution per participant maximum is $1,500. To be eligible for the student loan repayment assistance, a person must:

  • Establish residency in a ROZ County on or after the date on which the County opts into the student loan program

  • Hold at least an associate’s degree prior to moving to the ROZ County

  • Have an outstanding student loan balance related to a qualifying degree, in applicant’s name

  • Have the ability to provide proof of residency at current and previous addresses, proof of degree, and proof of student loan balance with distribution dates.

  • Must have a local sponsor to be funded .

Local sponsors can be counties which have funds budgeted by a resolution to the KDC by Jan. 31; cities which have funds budgeted by a resolution to KDC by Jan. 31; employers who have funds by sponsor confirmation agreement; and foundations who have funds by sponsor confirmation agreement. For any of the above to be a sponsor, the county they are located in must have a resolution to participate in the program.

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