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First there was Vermont, now Northwest Alabama is offering cash bounties to get remote workers to relocate to their states.
Vermont started accepting applications at the beginning of 2019 for the program, which pays people who work remotely for an out-of-state company to move to Vermont.The state will pay those new residents up to $10,000 over two years.
Yesterday a group of towns in Alabama made the same pledge. They even made a cool video about it.
Starting in June 2019, remote workers in the tech industry may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 to live in—and work from—The Shoals, an area that includes Colbert and Lauderdale counties in Northwest Alabama.
The Remote Worker Incentive Program, or Remote Shoals, spearheaded by a partnership between the Shoals Chamber of Commerce and the Shoals Economic Development Authority (SEDA), aims to bring up to ten remote tech workers to The Shoals, which comprises the cities of Florence, Muscle Shoals, Tuscumbia, and Sheffield, Ala.
“The program’s goal is to encourage professionals to relocate and work remotely from the Shoals and take advantage of our low cost of living and great quality of life,” said Adam Himber, Vice President of SEDA.
“Remote Shoals provides an opportunity to recruit new high-paying, full-time employment positions by providing incentives for employees instead of companies.”
Remote workers are employees and independent contractors who have jobs and contracts that allow them to work from any location.
To qualify for incentives through the Remote Worker Incentive Program, applicants must have tech-centric, remote jobs in fields like web design, graphic design, software engineering, computer programming, digital marketing, and more.
Applicants must be 18 or older, eligible to work in the U.S. and be employed outside the Shoals as either full-time employees or independent contractors. Individuals selected for the program must relocate to the Shoals within six months.
The Shoals area boasts many amenities, including close proximity to the Tennessee River, recreational areas like the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, diverse dining and shopping experiences, and a thriving music scene. But Himber said the cost of living may be the most attractive feature for remote workers.
“Instead of living in an area like San Francisco, their money will go much further here,” he said.
Himber said the relationship between the Shoals and its new base of remote workers will be mutually beneficial.
“They will create tax revenue for the area because they’ll spend the money they earn on groceries, dinners, and homes to boost our tax base. At the same time, they’ll increase our population and give us an additional labor force,” Himber said.
Candidates will begin the application process on the Remote Shoals website. A committee assembled by SEDA and the Shoals Chamber will then select candidates to move through two additional rounds of qualification.
Once top applications have been chosen, those applicants will be asked to participate in a video interview. The committee will narrow applicants down to a group of ten, who will then be invited to the Shoals area to experience the community first-hand.
“We’ll bring them on a visit to the Shoals so they can see our area before making a final commitment,” Himber said. “We want them to feel very welcomed by our community.”
Selection criteria are based in part on income. The minimum qualifying income starts at $52,000 per year.
Reimbursement is also based on income and will start at $6,000. The maximum is $10,000.
The maximum funding of $10,000 will be distributed to each recipient over the course of 12 months. Twenty-five percent of the reimbursement will be offered to help offset initial relocation expenses. Participants will receive another twenty-five percent after they’ve lived and worked remotely in the Shoals for six months. They will receive the final fifty percent after remaining in the Shoals for the full year.
As the program expands in the coming years, it will be open to jobs and remote workers from other industries.
“This year, we’re focusing on getting 10 people to move to our area,” Himber said. “We hope to expand on that in the future. It’s going to be a great opportunity.”
Remote Shoals is patterned after the popular Tulsa Remote program, established in 2018 to attract remote workers to Tulsa, Okla.
To learn more about Remote Shoals or to apply for the Remote Worker Incentive Program, visit https://www.remoteshoals.com.