Rural Opportunity Zone Incentive Guidelines

Click here for the ROZ Republic County information page on the Kansas Department of Commerce website.

ROZ Program Incentives:

  • Kansas income tax waivers for up to five years (tax credit available between 2011-2016)
  • Student loan repayments up to $15,000

Who’s Eligible?

To be eligible for Kansas income tax waivers, individuals must have:

  • established residency in a ROZ county on or after July 1, 2011
  • lived outside Kansas for five or more years immediately prior to establishing residency in a ROZ county
  • earned less than $10,000 in Kansas Source Income in each of the five years immediately prior to establishing residency in a ROZ county

To be eligible for student loan repayments, individuals must:

  • establish residency in a ROZ county after July 1, 2011 and on or after the date on which the county opts-in to the student loan program (Republic Co. signed on for the program in December 2012)
  • hold an associate’s, bachelor’s or post-graduate degree
  • have an outstanding student loan balance

Employer-Sponsorship of ROZ Applicants and Recipients

The Department of Commerce encourages ROZ Counties to partner with local employers to sponsor individual ROZ applicants.  Employers would be allowed to sponsor their employees and/ or hiring candidates for ROZ.  This would mean the employer would provide the necessary ROZ funding for the ROZ County’s share of the annual payment.  Sponsored ROZ Participants are not subject to the “first-come, first-served” rule that is applied to the general applicant pool.


  1. ROZ County must notify the Department of Commerce of a planned Employer-sponsorship.  Commerce will confirm the availability of State ROZ matching funds.
  2. Sponsoring Employer must provide a statement to the Department of Commerce and the ROZ County that they will be sponsoring a ROZ Applicant.
  3. Employer must agree as part of the sponsorship to pay the annual matching payment for the sponsor-employee or candidate for the full 5 years or for as long as the individual remains eligible for ROZ benefits in the County.*


  1. Employer sponsorships must be for 5 years, subject to ROZ recipient meeting ROZ eligibility requirement.  Sponsorships will not exceed 5 years
  2. Employers are not required to continue paying the ROZ matching payment for an employee that voluntarily terminates employment with the company.
  3. ROZ applicants that move to a different county are no longer eligible to receive ROZ student loan repayment benefits.
  4. Any ROZ matching payments made by the employer are non-refundable.
  5. In the event the business ceases operations and the ROZ recipient continues to meet ROZ requirements, the ROZ applicant will be placed in the general applicant pool and awarded ROZ payments subject to the availability of county funds.
  6. Employer-sponsors are not required to pay ROZ sponsorship if employment is separated from employment with cause.
  7. Employer and County must notify Commerce of change in employment status
  8. Employer and County must notify Commerce of change in residency location

For additional resources from the Kansas Department of Commerce click here  and you can apply for the ROZ Program here.


Luke Mahin
Republic County Economic Development


Kansas Department of Commerce
(785) 296-6815

For more information about the state income tax exemption click here or contact:

Kansas Department of Revenue
Office of Policy and Research
(785) 296-3081

Rural Opportunity Zones are 73 counties that have been authorized to offer one or both of the following financial incentives to new full-time residents.

ROZ Media Links:

Republic County native Kendra ‘Brown’ Short was interviewed with RCED Co-Director Luke Mahin by Justine Greve for Harvest Public Media / Kansas Public Radio for this article – Yahoo News/ Good MorningAmerica -Student Loans: Cities Offering to Pay Debt to Gain Young Residents

Forbes – Municipal Student Loan Reduction Incentives: A Way to Ease the Student Debt Burden?

Bloomberg: Student Debtors Find Much Forgiven in Move to Small Towns

Bloomberg TV: Kansas’s George Discusses Plan to Attract Workers

Christian Science Monitor: Income tax help with a twist: Move to rural Kansas. No state income tax.

The Atlantic: Kansas: Where Student Loans Go to Die

NPR:  Rural Communities Offer To Help Pay Student Loans To Lure Recent Grads

International Business Times: Will This Student Loan Repayment Program Save A Large Slice Of Rural America?