We are a country on the move. Many Americans relocated during pandemic-ravaged 2020 due to a job loss or fear of catching the virus.
Meanwhile, cities and towns left out of the boom are working to lure workers and families to migrate there, hoping to boost their populations and grow their economies. Some dangle offers of thousands of dollars to entice workers — often workers who do their jobs remotely.
These U.S. cities are offering financial incentives to newcomers.
1. West Virginia
West Virginia recently rolled out a program to attract remote workers. It offers $12,000 over two years, workspace and free use of outdoor rental gear with which approved applicants can enjoy the state’s many outdoor recreation opportunities.
The program, Ascend WV, received a $25 million gift from former Intuit CEO and West Virginia native Brad D. Smith and his wife, Alys.
Recipients’ stipends will be paid over two years:
- $10,000 in equal monthly payments through the first year
- An additional $2,000 paid at the end of the second year
Apply with the city of Morgantown, which is launching the program. Other communities are expected to follow.
Morgantown’s terms and conditions include:
- Be self-employed or employed remotely outside the state
- Currently live outside West Virginia and relocate to the greater Morgantown area within six months of acceptance
- Be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident
- Be a full-time remote worker whose work is based outside West Virginia
- Be “drawn to the state’s outdoor lifestyle”
Learn more: AscendWV
2. Tulsa, Oklahoma
Eligible applicants must be able to relocate to the Tulsa area in the 2021 calendar year and either have full-time remote employment or be self-employed outside of Oklahoma.
Accepted applicants will get $10,000 upfront and desk space at a co-working space in downtown Tulsa. You must be at least 18 and eligible to work in the U.S.
Learn more: Visit TulsaRemote.com.
3. Topeka, Kansas
Get up to $15,000 — and maybe even a $1,000 bonus from Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches.
How? Rent or buy a home in Shawnee County, Kansas, within a year of moving there and being hired in the area or working remotely for an employer located outside the county. The website for the Choose Topeka campaign, below, has the rules.
Learn more: Visit ChooseTopeka.com.
4. Northwest Arkansas
The Life Works Here initiative of the Northwest Arkansas Council offers relocating workers $10,000 and a bicycle (to explore the miles and miles of trails in the region) or annual membership to a local arts or cultural institution. The council is investing more than $1 million to attract top talent to the region.
To take advantage of the Life Works Here initiative you must:
- Be at least 24
- Have at least two years of work experience
- Currently live outside Arkansas
- Have a full-time job
- Relocate to northwest Arkansas within six months of acceptance
- Be a U.S. citizen or eligible to work legally in this country
Learn more: Visit FindingNWA.com.
5. Newton, Iowa
To take part in the Newton Housing Initiative, buy or build a new home and get either $5,000 (for homes worth $100,000 to $179,999) or $10,000 (for homes valued at $180,000 and over). Home values don’t include the price of the land in the city, which is 35 miles east of the state capital, Des Moines.
You must have begun construction in 2020 or 2021 on your new single-family home and fully complete the construction. You’ll get the financial incentive from the city upon closing your home financing.
Learn more: Visit the Newton Housing Initiative page on the city’s website.
6. Hamilton County, Ohio
The Hamilton Community Foundation offers a Talent Attraction Program to attract new residents to the southwest Ohio area with the lure of helping them repay student loan debt. The private foundation supports the region (which includes Cincinnati), works for community revitalization and addresses social and health issues that affect children and families locally.
Eligible applicants must:
- Have graduated within the last seven years, preferably from a STEAM program (science, technology, engineering, the arts or mathematics)
- Live outside designated areas in Hamilton County, with plans to move to designated areas there
- Have or get a professional job in Hamilton or Butler County
Preference is given to those who want to become involved in community activities. Program participants could receive $300 per month, to a maximum of $10,000.
Learn more: Visit the Talent Attraction Program page at the foundation’s website.
7. Natchez, Mississippi
A move to this small, historic city on the Mississippi River can earn a remote worker up to $2,500 in relocation reimbursement plus $300 per month for a year. The program was conceived to attract remote workers to Natchez, in the southwest part of the state.
Applicants must be willing to buy property worth at least $150,000 and have a job with an employer located outside of the region, according to Natchez Inc., an economic development agency.
Learn more: Read about the Shift South incentive program.
8. The Shoals in Alabama
Get $10,000 in installments to live and work remotely in the Shoals, which comprises the Florence-Muscle Shoals metropolitan area in northwest Alabama.
To be eligible for the program, you must:
- Earn at least $52,000 annually
- Move to the Shoals within six months of receiving the award
- Have full-time remote employment or be self-employed as an independent contractor outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties
- Be eligible to work in the United States
- Be at least 18 years old
Learn more: Visit RemoteShoals.com.
9. Mankato, Kansas
You can get a good start on living the small-town life with a free building lot in this north-central Kansas community of about 900.
Among other requirements, applicants must:
- Have a written agreement with a contractor to start construction within six months of acquiring the land
- Have a lender’s preapproval
- Be interviewed by the City Council
- Build a three (or more) bedroom single-family home with at least 1,200 square feet of living area
- Finish construction within two years after taking possession of the lot
Learn more: Visit the Free Land page on the Chamber of Commerce site.
10. Lincoln, Kansas
This rural agricultural community with fewer than 2,000 residents overlooks the Saline River. Lincoln is offering free lots that range from 14,000 square feet to 35,000 square feet. The lots are ready for construction and are located in a residential development with streets, water and sewer.
Applicants must agree to build a house of at least 1,300 square feet within an agreed-upon time frame and comply with design guidelines. Rules are given and questions answered at the link below to program information on the Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation website.
Learn more: Visit the Free Lots page of the county website.
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