Incentivizing Remote Workers: 4 States Luring Telecommuters



Economic Development Programs Entice Remote Workers

With the growing popularity of remote work, the definition of “going to the office” has changed.

Not everyone has to go from home to an office, then back home again for their jobs.

More and more people are going from the family room to the living room, and maybe even the backyard, during a typical “commute.”

States are starting to embrace the remote work trend.

To grow their populations, cities are no longer trying to attract specific companies to their town. Instead, they are trying to entice individuals with remote jobs that let them work from anywhere to come and set up house in their town.

A new strategy.

Historically, cities offered companies incentives and deals to attract them to the community. The hope was that with enough incentives, companies would set up shop, and then the locals could fill the new job openings.

Unfortunately, as many towns learned, trying to attract a company to town isn’t always the best strategy. As Steve Piper, former mayor of Marquette, Kansas, summed up, “Every town is looking to bring in jobs to their small town.”

So now, instead of trying to attract whole companies, smaller towns are trying to attract individuals who have remote jobs and can live anywhere. The new plan involves showcasing the town’s advantages (like a rural setting or a lower cost of living, for example), and letting the people who have remote jobs settle in the community.

Incentivizing remote workers pays off for everyone.

Incentivizing employees, instead of companies, can be a win-win-win situation.

Remote employees win because, on top of being able to choose where they work, they have towns trying to woo them with a range of enticements. These can include money to cover relocation costs, paying off student loans, or even money to buy a house.

Businesses win because remote employees may be happier employees. With the ability to live someplace with a low cost of living (relative to headquarters) or living closer to family, the option to pick a hometown based on factors other than a job can result in happier, more productive employees.

And, finally, the town wins. While the town may pay more upfront with the incentives, over time, it gets that initial investment back. The newest residents pay taxes and, in general, spend money in town. As these residents age, they may decide to stay and marry, have a family, and contribute to the overall growth of the community.

What cities and states incentivize remote work?

While there are plenty of cities and states that offer incentives to move to their location, not many of these programs are specifically for remote employees. That doesn’t mean remote workers can’t take advantage of some programs, but make sure you read the fine print. Some incentive programs explicitly state that you have to work for a local company.

However, four locations offer incentives specifically for remote employees.

Oklahoma

The Tulsa Remote program opened to applicants in November 2018. Initially, 100 slots were available, and the program administrators figured they might get 1,000 total applications.

They received nearly that many applications in one day.

And, they kept receiving that many applications every day until the program decided to cap the applicant pool at 10,000. The 2019 application cycle is over, but, starting in fall 2019, you can register for the 2020 cycle (sign up for email updates, so you don’t miss out).

Why is this new program so popular? Well, for starters, people in the program get a $10,000 cash payout over the year. You get some money upfront to help pay for moving expenses. Then, you receive a small monthly stipend for the year. Once you’ve lived in Tulsa for 365 days, you’ll get the remainder of the money.

Tulsa Remote will also pay for desk space at 36 Degrees North, a coworking location. And, they throw in a housing stipend on top of the monthly stipend.

Tulsa Remote makes sure you don’t do any of this alone. They created a social program that includes events and meetups to help you get connected to your new hometown.

The eligibility requirements are pretty simple. You have to be at least 18 years old and eligible to work in the U.S. Beyond that, you have to be a full-time, remote employee with a company based outside of Tulsa County. Or, you can be self-employed with your home base located outside of Tulsa County. And, you have to move to Tulsa within six months of selection.

Vermont

Vermont has a statewide initiative to attract remote workers. The program launched in January 2019 and pays remote workers up to $10,000 to live in Vermont. Paid out over two years, you can receive a maximum of $5,000 a year. The funds can pay for moving expenses and “other costs,” like membership at a coworking space, computer equipment, and Internet service.

Unlike other remote worker incentive programs, Vermont’s program is a grant program. This means that you don’t receive any money upfront. Instead, you pay your expenses, then apply to the program for reimbursement.

On average, the 69 people who took advantage of this incentive received about $3,600 each year and not the $5,000 possible maximum. However, Vermont is considering legislation to increase the yearly maximum to $7,500 in hopes of attracting more remote employees.

Those eligible for the grant had to be a full-time employee of a company based outside of Vermont. They had to be a new resident of Vermont after January 1, 2019, and perform a majority of their work from home or in a coworking space.

Alabama

If you’re looking to relocate right now, consider applying to the Remote Shoals program. Located in Northwest Alabama, Remote Shoals is currently accepting applications for its remote employee incentive program.

Like Tusla, Remote Shoals will give you $10,000 cash. To cover moving expenses, you’ll get 25% of the money upfront. After six months, you’ll receive another 25%. The final 50% is yours after you’ve lived in Shoals for one year.

Remote Shoals showcases some of its less tangible benefits. For example, in March 2019, the median cost of a home in Shoals was $131,500 compared to the national median of $302,700. Taxes are also lower, and the weather is mild compared to other parts of the country.

To be eligible for the program, you have to be 18 years old and able to work in the U.S. You also have to be a full-time, remote employee with a company based outside of Colbert and Lauderdale Counties and be able to move to Shoals within six months of selection. Unique to Remote Shoals, applicants must have a minimum annual income of $52,000.

Colorado

Colorado’s remote worker incentive program has a twist.

Unlike the above incentive programs, the Colorado Mutual Prosperity Program (COMP) is going after businesses. To be eligible for the incentives, the company has to set up shop anywhere in Colorado. However, they also need to hire employees that live in remote areas of the state and allow them to work at least three days a week remotely.

The idea is to get the best of both worlds. By attracting new businesses to Colorado, the state gets everything that comes with a new company (like tax payments and local jobs). However, the state also benefits by requiring the companies to hire people in rural areas within Colorado who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these new jobs.

The company also benefits. It can choose to set up in a bustling metropolis, like Denver, and use that to their advantage when they recruit new staff. And, the company doesn’t miss out on local talent that either can’t (or won’t) live in Denver.

Remote work has its benefits.

It’s hard to believe that on top of everything remote work has to offer, cities are now competing to have you move there. Ready to start your new adventure? Check out our remote job listings.

FlexJobs offers great advanced search options that help you narrow your search to specific cities, states, or countries. So whether you want to try out one of these remote work programs, or simply find a remote job in your neck of the woods, we have you covered.

CONNECT TO REMOTE JOBS >>>

Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com