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Small cities roll out relocation incentive packages to entice remote workers

Posted by Shivali Anand

March 10, 2022    |     5-minute read (929 words)

Some 59% of U.S. employees who say their positions can be performed mostly at home are now working at home either all the time or most of it, according to a Pew Research survey. Now a growing number of towns and small cities around the country are offering incentive packages aimed at nudging remote employees to relocate.

Long overlooked by armies of increasingly remote-working professionals, these cities hope to build a local talent pool that strengthens their economy. It’s not just money on the table; free memberships, gift cards, access to affordable housing, debt relief for student loans and other incentives are being floated to entice professionals who work from home to consider relocating.

The list of incentives frequently changes, as some programs reach their enrollment limits and new ones are introduced. The following are seven of the most intriguing offers at the time of publication:

Northwest Arkansas

Remote workers who migrate to Northwest Arkansas, a region known for its cycling routes, are offered complimentary street or mountain bikes. Those selected for the Finding NWA talent incentive program are also eligible for a $10,000 bonus. The City Council also offers an annual membership to local arts and cultural organizations as an alternative for those who don’t like to bike.

Communities: Bella Vista, Bentonville, Fayetteville, Lowell, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale.

Eligibility: Candidates must be at least 24 years old and have worked for at least two years. They must work full-time and be willing to relocate to the area within six months of being accepted.

West Virginia

The Ascend program in West Virginia provides $12,000 in cash over two years, access to a coworking facility and free outdoor activity gear rentals. Participants will also receive invitations to social gatherings and initiatives.

Communities: At the time of publication, Ascend Morgantown and Shepherdstown were preparing to open for applications. The Ascend Lewisburg program recently closed.

Eligibility: Candidates must be 18 years old, have a full-time job and be able to provide proof of their employment and remote working status.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Oklahoma's second-largest city has rolled out the Tulsa Remote program, which offers $10,000 in cash upfront to any remote worker who relocates to the city. The program also includes access to coworking community 36 Degrees North, as well as access to affordable housing and frequent community-building events.

Eligibility: Individuals should be at least 18 years old, citizens of the U.S. or able to work in the U.S. and able to move to Tulsa within 12 months.

Kansas

Topeka, Kansas' capital, is encouraging workers to relocate to the American heartland. Individuals who rent homes in Shawnee County can earn up to $5,000 in cash from the Choose Topeka program, while those who buy properties can receive up to $10,000. Jimmy John's also offers a $1,000 bonus to employees who relocate to one of the chain's three Topeka-area sandwich delivery zones.

Eligibility: Applicants’ remote employer must be situated outside of Shawnee County, or they must rent or buy a house in Shawnee County within a year of relocating and being hired in the region, in addition to being eligible to work in the U.S.

Georgia

The Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive aims to attract tech workers to move to Chatham County, Georgia, which is home to Savannah. Those selected are eligible for up to $2,000 in reimbursement for individual moving expenses, such as moving services, vehicle rentals, utility deposits and gas.

Eligibility: Before applying for the program, applicants must have at least three years of IT experience and have lived in Chatham County for at least 30 days.

Iowa

Newton, Iowa, has created the Call Newton Home initiative to entice workers to relocate there. Those who buy or develop a home in the region will get a $5,000 or $10,000 incentive under the plan. Those whose new home is worth between $100,000 and $190,000 will receive a $5,000 stipend; those whose new home is worth more than $190,000 will receive a $10,000 stipend.

Aside from the cash incentive, Newton also gives newcomers a welcome package that includes gift certificates for local art courses and Skiff Medical Center, photographer sessions, pool tickets, YMCA memberships, subscription discounts and more.

Eligibility: For single-family homes beginning construction in the city of Newton though 2023, as long as funding is available.

Hawaii

Hawaii's Movers and Shakas program offers selected remote employees free roundtrip flights and facilitated lodging (discounted hotel stays or short-term rentals) if they remain for at least 30 days in the state. Workers can also get help selecting a dependable coworking space through the program.

Attendees must commit to a minimum 30-day stay and at least 15 hours of volunteer work each month for two months, as well as participation in cultural orientation workshops and local networking activities. If the workers are only there for a month, they can do the required voluntary work from home.

At the time of publication, applications for Cohort 2 of the program were closed; dates for the following cohort have not yet been released.

Communities: Select Hawaiian islands.

Eligibility: Applicants must be able to participate in team-based volunteer projects and other structured initiatives, in addition to having current legal authorization to work in the United States and full-time employment.

Other relocation incentives

Even after the pandemic, the culture of working remotely or at least in hybrid work arrangements, is likely to persist. You can browse other relocation incentives as they come available from a range of cities by visiting MakeMyMove

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