On March 28th, 2023, Phillips County Economic Development (PCED) was awarded a Workforce Recruitment Incentive grant through The Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, Inc. (NWKEICI), based out of Norton, Kansas. This grant provides approved applicants with $60,000, divided into two payments, to disperse as recruitment incentives to businesses within their counties. This grant can be applied for annually by local Economic Development offices.
The Innovation Center provides economic and entrepreneurial assistance to businesses in rural Northwest Kansas. The private operating foundation serves 26 counties in the region with a variety of programs. NWKEICI strives to reverse the outflow of people and businesses from Northwest Kansas. Through its current and future initiatives that extend resources to these businesses and entrepreneurs, NWKEICI hopes to increase population and to foster economic innovation in Northwest Kansas.
PCED Executive Assistant, Billie Knowles, assembled a Workforce Recruitment Incentive board, separate from the PCED Board, within Phillips County to assist with the application process. The board set local requirements and qualifications and will monitor and disperse the funds. Members of the Workforce Recruitment Incentive Board include Max Lowry, Jessica Stewart, Mike Gower, Cassie Taylor, and Caleb Breon. As part of the required market research, Knowles organized a Community Asset Mapping event to determine the county’s needs and assets when it comes to recruiting new residents. One of the largest priorities of the board is to provide an exceptional experience, not only for new employees, but also for the families they may bring with them. They aim to help identify the county’s unique assets, and build upon them, to encourage families to relocate to our county. The board sees the importance of assisting businesses with recruiting new residents to the county, as well as providing incentives to attract and retain current residents in need of a job.
While NWKEICI set the basic rules for the grant distribution, the local Workforce Recruitment Incentive Board is allowed to determine the in-depth regulations and qualifications. The local board wanted to give business owners flexibility with these incentives, all while maintaining a system of checks and balances. Employers or business owners will be the ones to apply for incentive funds. By doing so, they exhibit their own personal investment in the program and will be allowed to advertise their eligibility for the incentive. Likewise, potential employees must apply for employment at participating businesses to be eligible to receive incentive funds.
Incentivized positions must be full-time and pay a minimum wage of $15.50 per hour, or a minimum salary of $32,500 per year. The only exception to these requirements is if the local Workforce Recruitment Incentive board deems certain employment openings as “critical positions,” determined by market research. Only new employees will be eligible for the incentive funds and candidates must live in Phillips County or locate to Phillips County within three months of accepting an approved, incentivized position. Employers who apply for this program must have posted the job opening on both the Phillips County Jobs website (phillipscountyks.org/jobs) and the ConnectNWK (connectnwk.org) website.
The Phillips County Workforce Recruitment Incentive Board has developed a packet for employers to apply for these funds. Application packets will be distributed to chambers of commerce and employers across the county. All program awards are subject to the availability of funds, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The Workforce Recruitment Incentive Board would like to emphasize that these incentives come as a grant from Northwest Kansas Economic Innovation Center, Inc., not from sales tax collections in Phillips County. This board is not associated with the Phillips County Economic Development board.
This program was officially launched during the week of May 8th, 2023. For more information, or to request an application, please contact Billie Knowles or Caleb Breon at the Phillips County Economic Development Office at (785) 543-5809. You can visit the office at 205 F Street, Suite 205, Phillipsburg, Kansas. You can also visit our website at https://www.phillipscountyks.org/departments/EconomicDevelopment/PhillipsCoWFIProgram