Throughout the pandemic, cities throughout the US have begun offering remote workers cash as an incentive to relocate. Tulsa, Oklahoma and Natchez, Mississippi have both created official programs to pay remote workers to move there, and now, West Virginia wants to pay remote workers $12,000 to move to its “country roads.”
On April 12th Governor Jim Justice announced the Ascend WV program, which would “allow adventurers to enjoy world-class recreation, uncrowded spaces, and a low cost of living while staying fully connected to their jobs.”
Major companies throughout the US are beginning to bring their employees back into the office as multiple vaccines become available throughout the country. This is a major motivator for West Virginia, who’s looking to bring in a greater population as the nation returns to a greater sense of normalcy in the coming months.
“The $12,000 West Virginia is offering is paid over two years, with $10,000 divided in monthly payments for the first year and $2,000 paid at the end of the second year, according to the program’s website. If you move early, you keep the money that you’ve earned so far,” according to news reports.
According to the website, “the incentive package also includes a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation, bringing the total value to $20,000. That includes a year of access to activities such as whitewater rafting and downhill skiing, as well as two years of free outdoor gear rentals, such as camping gear or paddleboarding equipment.”
Applicants must be 18 years or older with a full-time remote job at a company located outside the state of West Virginia in order to qualify for the program. Shepherdstown, Lewisburg and Morgantown are the first three host cities accepting applicants who are interested in the program. More than 2,000 people have already applied for the 50 spots available in Morgantown.
Applications will be open until the end of May for Morgantown, and will open up for Shepherdstown and Leqisburg in the beginning of 2022.
The governor’s office also revealed that the program is partially supported by Brad Smith and his wife Alys; Brad was the former CEO of Intuit and is a native West Virginian. According to the governor’s office the couple donated $25 million to West Virginia University to get the program off the ground.
“Alys and I are committed to the success of this program and its ability to leverage West Virginia’s outdoor assets to attract fresh talent, cultivate dynamic communities and continue to fuel the entrepreneurial and innovative thinking that are hallmarks of the state,” Smith said. The Smiths hope the program will eventually include all of the states’ 55 counties as well.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.