Remote worker attraction programs represent an exciting innovation for state and local economic development. Recent evaluations of remote worker incentive programs in Vermont and Tulsa found that they have been effective in attracting new people and are generating net economic gains. Panelists at a recent roundtable shared these perspectives on what makes worker attraction incentives effective.

Communities should acknowledge that incentives are unlikely to be the only reason for an individual’s relocation decision, but they can be an important factor for many and provide an “extra push” to encourage individuals to make the move.

Incentives are most effective when they are part of holistic economic development strategies.  Places that are considering these incentives should embrace what makes their community great – but also understand/address the factors that may make relocation difficult. Strategies should address the factors that might impede relocation decisions.

Incentives tend to resonate with people who have some connection to or experience in your community already. In Tulsa, 39% reported having a family connection to the area before moving.  21% are “boomerangs” who previously lived in Tulsa. In Vermont, 50% of remote worker recipient survey respondents have family in Vermont, and 24% had been a resident previously. 

Relocating remote workers are seeking to make meaningful connections within their new communities. Memberships to local cultural organizations, business and community networking opportunities, and free access to co-working spaces are common approaches to building connections. Building community connections is important to helping remote workers put down roots and creating places where people want to be.

This article is drawn from New Findings on Remote Worker Attraction Programs. This white paper summarizes the major themes from the April 5, 2022, roundtable of the same name, sponsored by the State Economic Development Executives network and hosted by the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness. The roundtable panel discussed findings from recent evaluations of two of the longest-standing remote worker attraction programs: the Vermont New Remote Workers Grant Program and Tulsa Remote.

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