We have been tracking how economic development organizations are incorporating remote work into their incentive programs since before the pandemic. Our work ramped up over the past year with an early look at methods for adjusting incentive performance agreements to reflect stay-at-home orders and remote work patterns. The briefing on Addressing Remote Work in State Business Incentive Programs outlined issues states should consider as they determine whether or how to modify their incentive programs to accommodate remote work going forward.

A common theme has been uncertainty. The scope of continued remote work adoption, the range of effects on urban versus rural communities, and how individual choices about where to live may (or may not) be changing all remain unclear. Continued uncertainty is one reason we have seen limited new incentive program activity around remote work.

Research on recently approved state incentive programs found four new initiatives. 

Connecticut’s Commissioner of Economic and Community Development has been directed by statute to “develop a plan to support the state’s remote work economy, including but not limited to, the promotion of existing remote work workspaces and incentives for the creation of new remote workspaces in the state.” 

Louisiana has passed an individual income tax exemption of 50% of gross wages up to $150,000 for “digital nomads.” The intent is to induce “individuals to locate in Louisiana who will make significant contributions to the development of the economy of the state of Louisiana.” 

The Oklahoma Remote Quality Jobs Incentive Act is designed “to attract growth industries and sectors that employ remote workers to Oklahoma.” Proxy establishments that facilitate the attraction of remote workers to Oklahoma may receive quarterly incentive payments based on a net benefit rate and actual payroll. 

Vermont’s Act 51 “directs the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to design and implement a program to provide incentives to new relocating employees,” with a provision for an individual that “is a full-time employee of an out-of-state business and performs the majority of his or her employment duties remotely from a home office or co-working space located in this State.”  

Implications of Remote Working Adoption on Place-Based Policies from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) also describes several types of incentive programs implemented in individual G7 countries, including:

  • Providing financial support to small firms for information technology upgrades
  • Home office expenses deduction for personal income tax
  • Tax credit for investments in technologies and devices that enable “agile work”
  • Tax relief to balance additional household costs from teleworking
  • In-kind incentives, including co-working spaces
  • Promoting local services/benefits, networks, and temporary work sites in specific locations
  • Grants to enhance local conditions for teleworking practices
  • Grants and services for small and medium enterprises to implement teleworking programs
  • Subsidies or financial support for individual relocations

We will continue to track this topic and look forward to sharing our insights. 

Thank you to Regan Price, Economic Development Research Intern, Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness and Smart Incentives, for the state program analysis.