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Hillsboro Development Corp. Executive Director Clint Seibel told Benjamin Reeves of International Business Times that rural Kansas needs more young people. "We've done a great job educating our young people in rural America and then we buy them a suitcase and send them to a major university and never see them again," Seibel said. The program draws about one new applicant per day. Almost 75 percent of applicants, aged 25 to 35, meet program requirements, and most are from Kansas, with a large portion coming from Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado. But others have come from California, New York and Florida.
Some in the region are opposed to the program, including the Jefferson City, Mo., News Tribune's editorial board, who said the program offers no direct financial incentives and worries it will use tax dollars to supplement loan repayments. It called the program "inequitable and elitist." Reeves reports many local residents in Kansas' Rural Opportunity Zones "resent the encroachment of those they perceive as overeducated outsiders." The opposition has led the state's lawmakers to cut the program's budget by $250,000. (Read more)