West Virginia presents distant staff $ 12,000 and different perks for transferring to the state – CBS Pittsburgh

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – West Virginia is joining the growing list of remote hiring jobs – with an exciting twist.

A public-private program launched Monday will seek to lure outdoor enthusiasts into living in the rural state, with lures of cash and free tickets to recreational destinations. The aim is to use one of West Virginia’s most attractive assets, its epic natural beauty, to contain population loss in the only state that has fewer people today than it did in 1950.

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The new program represents a more focused effort than a bill from Republican Governor Jim Justice for a massive income tax cut that fell apart in the legislature near the end of Saturday’s regular session. The Remote Worker Program gives out-of-state participants moving to West Virginia $ 12,000 plus one year passes to go whitewater rafting, golf, climbing, horseback riding, skiing, ziplining, and other activities. The full moving package is worth more than $ 20,000.

“We want people to get away from big cities,” said Chelsea Ruby, secretary of the State Cabinet of Tourism, in an interview with The Associated Press. “There are no crowded places, long roads, or traffic jams in West Virginia. There are just many places to put down roots and explore the great outdoors. “

Several other states and U.S. cities have launched a number of remote working programs, including a popular project developed by a billionaire philanthropist in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2018.

The coronavirus pandemic brought the work-from-home concept into the stratosphere last year, and tens of millions of employees have been temporarily or permanently displaced from their offices. West Virginia officials expect to continue.

Participants whose employers are elsewhere will have access to workspaces set up in three communities selected as remote networking hubs earlier this year. These hubs will connect them with entrepreneurs and government executives.

“What a chance this great state has,” Justice said at a press conference on Monday. “In terms of potential, it’s incredible.”

The program is now accepting applications for the first 50 openings in Morgantown, where West Virginia University is located on the Pennsylvania border. WVU also gives applicants training opportunities, Ruby said.

Later this year there will be open positions for remote worker positions in Shepherdstown in the eastern part of the state and in Lewisburg in the southeast corner of the state. The organizers will later consider how they can expand it to other communities.

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Ruby said the message was similar to what the state is selling in its tourism promotion campaign.

“Except instead of saying come here for the weekend and come here for a week, let’s say come here permanently,” she said.

The program was launched in October through a gift from Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, and his wife, Alys, to WVU for an outdoor economic development collaboration. Brad Smith, who grew up in Kenova, West Virginia, said he studied remote worker programs in Tulsa, Vermont and an area of ​​northwest Alabama known as The Shoals to see how the concept could work in West Virginia .

He noted that successful programs have essential services such as broadband and affordable housing; vibrant communities with restaurants and an arts and entertainment scene that attracts younger people; and something unique to attract them.

In West Virginia, that distinctive aroma is nature.

Popular destinations in the state include the country’s newest national park at New River Gorge, hiking trails and cliffs at Seneca Rocks, and several resorts with golf courses and ski areas. Brad Smith expects these attractions to sell themselves.

“I think if they got the chance to do the things I could do as an adult, they won’t want to go anywhere else,” he said.

The announcement coincided with the 50th anniversary of the release of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

“The gates to ‘Almost Heaven’ are now open,” said Smith.

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