Remember when Vermont officials started to worry that the population would shrink too much too fast, and then conceived a program to give remote workers a small fortune to move there? Well, other states have started to offer the same incentives — and West Virginia is one of them. A new program will provide small incentives to outdoor enthusiasts who love state and national parks.
Republican Governor Jim Justice had tried a different approach. He wanted to cut the state income tax to next to nothing, but the state legislature wasn’t having it. The remote worker program would achieve the same goal though. Remote workers who move to West Virginia under the program will receive the aforementioned $12,000.
But that’s not all.
They will also receive passes for the first year of residence so they can enjoy everything West Virginia has to offer, including rafting, rock climbing, and ziplining. Taken together with the $12,000, someone who makes use of everything would make off with a valued gift of approximately $20,000. Not bad if you love the great outdoors, eh?
Dallas bankruptcy attorney Brian Wells is starting to wonder if such an offer might be more worthwhile to residents of his own city than it would have been a year ago: “People are still migrating to Texas for a variety of reasons, but many big cities saw a decline in residents when the coronavirus pandemic first started. Anyone down on their luck might jump at the opportunity to move to a cheaper state that also offers a financial incentive.”
State tourism cabinet secretary Chelsea Ruby said, “We want to give folks the opportunity to escape big cities. In West Virginia, there are no crowded places, long commutes or traffic jams. There’s just plenty of places to put down roots and explore the great outdoors.”
Justice added, “What an opportunity this great state has. As far as potential, it’s unbelievable.”
The program might limit where you can live, though. Dozens of openings are available in Morgantown, where you’ll find West Virginia University — and be granted the opportunity to study there through addiction education incentives through the school.
Other options will later include Shepherdstown and Lewisburg.
Ruby said the message is transforming from one in which officials ask for temporary visitors — i.e. tourists — into one that asks people to make West Virginia their home instead.
The state song is John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” and it’s no surprise that the announcement was timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the release of that song.
Executive chairman of Intuit’s board of directors, Brad Smith, helped conceive the program. He said, “I think if [new residents] had the chance to do the things that I had the chance to do growing up, they’re not going to want to go anywhere else.”