Monday, April 11, 2011
Empty warehouses and vacant real estate plague some rural communities in Kansas. The Rural Opportunity Zones bill is hoping to change that around. Some residents are glad to have an additional tool to attract people to rural communities.
"We hope to be able to attract people that have gone away for five or six years and they maybe want to come back to be close to grandma, or maybe somebody who's never even heard of us before," said Jane Wallace, executive director of the Kingman County Economic Development Council.
Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill, giving 50 counties, that have seen a loss of population over the last ten years, a chance to attract professionals and college graduates.
"This is an attempt to move people here and that's just a different approach then what's been taken. It's trying to create a better atmosphere," said Brownback.
Graduates will be able to pay down student loans of up to $15,000 if they move into one of those counties.
"Was planning on probably moving to a smaller community for that," said Jaden Prewitt, student at Wichita State University. "With this bill, that definitely is just that much more incentive for me to look in those smaller areas to kind of see what they have, what opportunities are open."
For communities like Kingman, they hope that the state income tax break for out-of-state residents will attract some that may still want to work in nearby cities.
"We know that over 900 people drive to Wichita everyday to work. But this bill would still allow them to move here, put there kids in our schools, and work somewhere else if they wanted to," said Wallace.
The law goes into effect July 1, 2011.
You can learn more about the bill by clicking here.
The following are counties designated as ROZ: Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearney, 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, Woodson