- West Virginia is launching a new program aimed at luring remote workers to the state.
- Called Ascend WV, the program offers $12,000 cash and other benefits to workers who relocate.
- Some major companies, like Twitter and Ford, have already said employees may work from home forever.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
West Virginia is hoping to lure remote workers to the Mountain State with the promise of $12,000 and a year's worth of free outdoor activities.
The state tourism office on Tuesday announced a new program called Ascend WV aimed enticing those who work from home to move to West Virginia. Ascend WV will provide relocation packages to incoming residents, starting with 50 slots for those interested in moving to Morgantown, home to West Virginia University. The program will eventually expand to more cities across the state.
The relocation package includes:
- $12,000 cash
- A year of free outdoor recreation including whitewater rafting, rock climbing, ziplining, ATV-ing, golfing, and skiing
- Over $1,200 worth of free outdoor gear rentals
- Free access to coworking spaces
- Professional advancement through WVU, including access to the business school's "entrepreneurship ecosystem" and the ability to obtain remote work certifications
- Networking events with state business leaders
- Social events to help incoming residents meet new people
Those who move will receive $10,000 paid in monthly installments for the first year and the additional $2,000 if they stay for a second year.
The program is funded by a $25 million donation from Intuit executive chairman Brad D. Smith and his wife, Alys, to the Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative at WVU. The organization partnered with West Virginia's department of tourism and department of economic development to create the program in six months.
Smith is a West Virginia native and said in a statement that he hopes the program will allow West Virginia to "capitalize on national workforce trends" by leveraging the state's access to outdoor pursuits.
West Virginia is one of a handful of states hoping to entice remote workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Late last year, Tulsa, Oklahoma, announced a similar program that grants workers $10,000 to relocate to the city. And earlier this year, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez partnered with Softbank Capital to invest $100 million in making the city friendlier to tech startups hoping to relocate.
The efforts come as many major companies are reconsidering the future of work post-pandemic. Companies like Ford, Twitter, Dropbox, and Slack have said employees may work from home 100% of the time. Others, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Salesforce have announced policies that allow for some of their employees to work remotely while others will come into the office at least part of the time.