A year ago, Robin Bruce lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas and didn’t think he liked it. It was before she took advantage of a program primarily funded by the Walton Family Foundation. It offers an incentive of $ 10,000 to seduce new residents into the Ozark region.
Bruce, a singer, visual artist and writer, is eligible for financial incentives because he understands that building its cultural vitality is the key to attracting more inhabitants to the region. I did. Worker.
Entrepreneurs who want to build or expand their businesses and create jobs in the region, as well as those who can work from anywhere in the growing segment of the workforce, are also eligible for the $ 10,000 incentive.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in terms of funding and casual connections,” Bruce said.
Efforts in northwestern Arkansas are increasing projects funded by philanthropic projects to promote economic development, promote civil and cultural life, attract skilled workers, and offset population decline and sparseness. It is a part.
Remote workers are especially attractive because they tend to have high disposable income. It’s also much cheaper for cities and towns to attract, given what companies demand when considering relocation. Companies often seek guarantees, tax cuts, or other government subsidies for skilled workers.
Before the pandemic, foundations and donors were spreading money to attract workers to their areas, while interest in this idea was growing. Experts estimate that the number of people who no longer need to work in the office, boosted by the flexible workers found during the quarantine, will double in the next few years.
In Tulsa, the George Kaiser Family Foundation pioneered a financial incentive approach in 2018. Since the start of the program, about 50,000 people have applied. Since March 2020, applications have increased by 300%. Since its inception, Tulsa Remote has 1,000 participants and will fill 750 slots this year.
Participants had to stay for a year to maintain the $ 10,000 incentive, and 90% of those who moved to Tulsa stayed there after the one-year requirement. The Kaiser Foundation has invested $ 4 million in Tulsa Remote to provide remote workers and other people with incentives to move to the city.
“I’m sorry that so many people tried to recreate what they’re doing at Tulsa Remote,” wrote Ben Stewart, executive director of Tulsa Remote and senior program officer at the Kaiser Foundation, in an email. increase.
Locations that borrow elements of the Kaiser-Tulsa Remote approach include Ascend WV in West Virginia, Remote Tucson, and Movers & Shakas in Hawaii.
Tulsa participants have moved from large states such as California, New York, and Texas. Most applicants for the Ascend WV and Lifeworks Here, Northwest Arkansas programs are also people living in large states and metropolitan areas. Applicants for all three programs are attracted to the desire to be part of the community’s self-improvement or reinvention mission, as well as low cost of living, slow pace, quality of life, and cash incentives. Said that.
Last year, West Virginia-born Brad Smith turned to a Silicon Valley executive, and his wife, Alice, funded cash incentives for people migrating to their home state to cover the cost of developing outdoor recreation. Donated $ 25 million to Ascend WV. option. He said the program was designed to appeal to “digital nomads,” many of whom are attracted to outdoor activities.
“Charity can serve as a catalyst for innovation,” former Intuit CEO Smith said in an email, saying it’s important to help cities take risks with new initiatives like Ascend WV. He said he provided funding because he was thinking.
Life Works Here received $ 1.5 million from the Walton Foundation, primarily at the request of Helen and Sam Walton’s grandchildren Tom and Stuart Walton, who became the Wal-Mart Empire in Arkansas.
Launched in 2020, LifeWorks Here will accept 100 participants by the fall, of which 35 have been selected. About 30,000 people applied. Participants must stay for a year to fully maintain the $ 10,000 incentive.
Meanwhile, according to census data, Smith hopes that Ascend WV will help reverse the state’s population decline, which fell by about 3.3% between 2010 and 2020, to about 1.8 million.
Ascend WV will select the first 50 participants from 7,500 applicants. The first participants will move to Morgantown. Participants must stay for two years to fully maintain the $ 12,000 incentive.
With high demand and generous funding, Ascend WV’s goal is to attract 1,000 remote workers to the state over the next three to five years, dividing them into groups of 25 to 50 at a time, according to Smith. “To be able to form new workers. Build social relationships, get to know the area and calm down.”
All programs aim to retain new residents by providing them with the opportunity to connect with fellow participants and join local nonprofits. According to program supporters, building such connections is essential to maintaining them.
Brent Meyer, policy adviser and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, quoted a survey of business uncertainties conducted by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors at the University of Chicago Booth Business School, where about 3% of workers are pandemic. He said he worked full-time in remote areas before. , And Stanford University.
According to Meyer, this figure is expected to double to 6%, or about 7.4 million workers, as companies permanently adjust their policies as the pandemic eases.
Stewart said the Foundation did not hesitate to fund the program, as leaders were convinced that the city could attract workers in remote areas, especially at $ 10,000 Nudge. Tulsa has undergone many redevelopments, including the Tulsa Arts District and the Gathering Place at Riverfront Park.
Edna Martinson and her husband, Clarence Tan, brought the company as well as their work. They are co-founders and remote staff of Boddle Learning, an educational technology company that moved from Kansas City to Tulsa in August 2020. They offer free collaborative work space and venture capital.
“Then I realized that all of this could come for $ 10,000,” she said. “wonderful!”
The move to Tulsa was good for Boddle Learning and definitely for the city. After the move, the company, which had 11 full-time employees, has hired local employees and plans to move from the UK to Tulsa this fall.
The three programs rigorously screen applicants to ensure that the city is suitable for them. Danny Twilley, assistant Dean of Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative, who runs Ascend WV in partnership with the West Virginia Tourism Board, helps settle this approach.
“We want people who want to be part of the community,” he said. “They understand West Virginia. They believe in West Virginia.
Bruce, an artist who moved to Fayetteville, said he had moved to town before he knew about Lifeworks Here and the incentives for remote workers. She applied for a Master of Arts program at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and came to visit.
She was ecstatic to see the $ 700 affordable rent for a two-bedroom apartment instead of $ 1,800 for a similar unit in Boulder.
“Space is very important to creativity and I’m not just talking about physical space,” she said. “There is also economical space.”
This article was contributed to The Associated Press by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Oliver Perkins is a senior writer for Chronicles. Email: Olivera.email@example.com.. APs and Chronicles are supported by the Lily Foundation for philanthropic and non-profit organizations. AP and Chronicle are solely responsible for all content. For all coverage of AP’s philanthropy, please visit: https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy..
The Foundation is helping to persuade workers to relocate to the city | Work
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