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Get paid to move: 6 regions use cash benefits to attract new residents

Step up and claim your $ 10,000 remote workers. Northwest Arkansas is calling you.

Right, the Northwest Arkansas Council and other business development councils like this one in various regions of the United States are taking advantage of the wave of newly-remote workers to attract new talent and dollars to the local economy – without sacrificing existing job opportunities for residents.

Business councils try to woo remote workers with incentives like cash, community events with other transplants, free flights, and, in the case of the Northwest Arkansas Council, a bike. And it seems to be working.

Northwest Arkansas Council’s Life Works Here initiative, launched in late Fall 2020, offers select remote workers $ 10,000 in cash and either a bike to explore the state’s hundreds of bike trails or annual membership in one of the state’s Art and cultural institutions in the region.

In the first selection round, which was awarded at the end of February, almost 30,000 people applied for the program. Only a few dozen of these applicants were lucky award winners who had to move to Arkansas within six months of their acceptance and pledge to stay for at least a year.

“We had 29,000 people from every state and several countries around the world applying for our first round,” Nelson Peacock, president and executive director of Northwest Arkansas Council, told the New York Times. “We never expected this answer. The problem was figuring out how to choose. “

The program, which was funded by the Walton Family Foundation, currently has $ 1 million earmarked for additional awards. The idea is that by recruiting remote workers, the region will acquire new skills and talent while boosting the local economy.

However, some locals say the program’s dollars are being misdirected.

“I could probably raise much of my life on $ 10,000,” Justin Ratliff, a resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas, and a vocal opponent of the program, told the Times. “The money can be redirected to help people who have problems. This program spits in the faces of people who are already here doing the best they can. They graduate from university and graduate. “

Ratliff and others have argued that the out-of-towers the community seeks to attract already have stable jobs to support themselves and don’t need the funds like the locals do. Ratliff also noted that even before the initiative started, the area was attracting new residents from other locations, showing that people don’t need a financial incentive to move there.

The Northwest Arkansas Council also confirmed that an average of 32 new people moved to the area daily during 2019 and early 2020.

Still, the Council stands by the initiative and claims it attracts the types of workers the region lacks.

“In my opinion [program objectors] We have invested in a lot of our small businesses, but what we’re trying to focus on here: What does the future hold? “Peacock told the Times. “We don’t need people to move here. We need people who work in the right industries. “

While it’s one of the most noticeable relocation incentive programs currently on offer in the country, the Northwest Arkansas initiative isn’t the only one. Such programs have become more widely available in recent years and are becoming more accessible to a wider population after many companies have implemented permanent policies on remote working.

The increase in programs even prompted the launch of MakeMyMove.com in December 2020, an online directory showing off these types of initiatives being offered in the United States

The website has a “Design My Move” feature that allows users to define their ideal location and relocation incentive package, which the company will forward to those responsible for local economic development (if they receive multiple requests for the same region) so they can Create new programs in areas where there is greater demand.

The following states and regions are just a selection of places that are now offering similar relocation incentives that are remote worker friendly, to attract new residents and talent while stimulating the economy.

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah | Photo credit: Matt Briney / Unsplash

What: The Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive

Incentives: A reimbursement of $ 2,000 for individual moving expenses to Savannah.

requirement: Applicants must be qualified technicians currently residing outside of Chatham County. You can be self-employed, employed by another company remotely, or hire a new technology company in the area.

They must have at least three years of experience, move or purchase property with a lease of at least a year, and have lived in the county for at least 30 days before they can apply for the program.

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Tulsa | Photo credit: Jon Grogan / Unsplash

What: Tulsa remote control

Incentives: US $ 10,000 cash, work space in one of Tulsa’s coworking communities, discounted living in selected Tulsa apartments, organized community events.

requirement: Must be 18 years or older, be able to move to Tulsa within the 2021 calendar year, work full-time remotely, or be self-employed outside of Oklahoma and be eligible to work in the United States


Kauai, Hawaii | Photo credit: Karsten Winegeart / Unsplash

What: Moving Companies and Shakas!

Incentives: Free airfare to Hawaii, discounted long term hotel stays, community and cohort building opportunities.

requirement: Remote workers are expected to stay in Hawaii for at least 30 days and share their skills and experience with the local community. Applicants must live outside of Hawaii and be US workers 18 and over.

Participants will take part in arts education, mentor local startups, and volunteer for at least 15 hours for local nonprofits.

Southwest Michigan

Beach near Southwest Michigan | Photo credit: Safura Syed / Unsplash

What: Move to Michigan

Incentives: Up to $ 15,000 to buy a new home in one of four Southwest Michigan zip codes and choose from two additional perks like membership in a sports club, a year or two of car service to and from the airport, -year coworking space membership .

requirement: Grants are available for home purchases of $ 200,000 or more, and applicants must demonstrate full-time employment outside of southwest Michigan.

Northwest Alabama

Muscle Shoals Reservation | Recognition:
John Coletti / Getty

What: Remote Shoals

Incentives: $ 10,000 in cash paid in installments during the first year of an applicant’s life in the Shoals of northwest Alabama.

requirement: Applicants must be 18 years or older and eligible to work in the United States. You must have a minimum annual income of $ 52,000 and be a full-time employee or self-employed outside of Colbert and Lauderdale counties. They must also be able to move to the area within 6 months of their selection.

Newton, Iowa

Jasper County Courthouse in Newton | Photo credit: Eddie Brady / Getty

What: The Newton Housing Initiative

Incentives: Individuals buying a home built in Newtons in 2020 or 2021 can receive up to $ 10,000 in cash and a $ 2,500 Welcome to Newton Package.

requirement: Incentives are provided when and where the financing of the house is completed, the house construction must be fully completed and a radon remediation system must be installed in the new house.

Homes valued at $ 180,000 or more receive a cash incentive of $ 10,000, and homes valued at $ 100,000 to $ 179,999.99 receive a cash incentive of $ 5,000.

Email Lillian Dickerson


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