Lyon County has added a new “arrow” to its quiver for growing the local community.
During their regular action meeting Thursday, county commissioners approved a zero dollar resolution establishing the county as a Rural Opportunity Zone participating county. Counties with this designation from the Kansas Department of Commerce are able to offer several financial incentives for new residents, including student loan repayment assistance and 100-percent state income tax credits for a five-year period.
County Commissioner Scott Briggs says the program will be very beneficial in attracting a new younger workforce with many local workers either entering or nearing retirement at this time.
Rachele Rowland of ROZ says the program is meant for “recruitment and not retention.” Ignite Emporia Director Rob Gilligan says it may take time to see the fruits of the labor, however, he is confident the program will make a major impact.
The county’s resolution while establishing Lyon County as a ROZ participant did not provide any funding for the program at this time. However; any employer or organization within the county is able to utilize the program, so long as they provide the funds, to support their employees.
The county is planning to utilize the program under these guidelines through the remainder of the year, at which time it will consider providing funds to the program in 2022.
Applications will be available starting Monday. Interested employers may find an application for the program online at Kansascommerce.gov/ROZ.
Only residents who “established their domicile” in Lyon County on or after Thursday will be eligible to benefit from the financial incentives.
In other business, commissioners received the monthly Public Health COVID-19 update from Lyon County Public Health Officer Dr. Ladun Oyenuga and Incident Commander Renee Hively. According to Hively, as of Thursday, there has been a total of $21,686 doses of coronavirus vaccine administered within the county which is roughly 35 percent of the estimated eligible population.
Hively says the county is eligible to receive supplemental funding for vaccination efforts through the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The only issue, according to Hively, is that the guidelines for said funding have yet to be fully divulged.
She says one certainty at this time is that the county could use the funding to provide incentives –up to $25– to individuals who choose to receive a COVID vaccine. Hively says she is unsure whether or not those incentives will be effective in improving vaccination rates locally.
The Lyon County Commission will reconvene for their weekly action session next Thursday at 9 am inside the Lyon County Courthouse.