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New York Times

Would you like to move to our town? Here is a free bike for $ 10,000.

Jennifer Hillbooker has spent much of her professional life on the road. Chef and entrepreneur Booker, 45, is the author of two cookbooks, and her trip on the lecture circuit took her all over the country, but always returned to Atlanta, where the two of them I lived with my child. Then, last year, when her daughters graduated from college, she realized that there was nothing to keep her there. “I have an empty nest syndrome looking for the next stage in my life,” she said. Last winter, a pandemic trapped most Americans in their homes and flattened the local economy, and the Northwestern Arkansas Council gave selected remote workers $ 10,000 and free bicycles (in the area). Learned that they have started a program that offers 322 miles of bike paths). Moved there within 6 months. Booker has been to the area several times and found the up-and-coming restaurant scene to be exciting, so she decided to give it a try. “$ 10,000 gives me the opportunity to put a down payment on a tiny little bachelor last pad,” she said. “In this program, in addition to other transplants, I also like to introduce people who already live in northwestern Arkansas. They tell me where to shop, where to eat and where to worship. Approximately 30,000 people signing up for the morning newsletter from the New York Times have applied for the LifeWorks Here initiative, said Nelson Peacock, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council. Booker is one of the winners and is preparing to move to the University of Arkansas and Springdale, a small city on the outskirts of Fayetteville, home to about 85,000 residents this summer. She needs to stay for at least a year as part of the program, which is fine for her. “When I see people who are very excited to welcome me into the community, I just want to go there,” she said. The Fayetteville region, including Bentonville, best known as the home of Wal-Mart’s global headquarters, is one of several smaller metropolitan areas and states across the country, from Georgia to Hawaii, and is increasingly working. Trying to seduce wealthy workers who can. Remotely. The idea is that they shop at local stores and pay property taxes, but they don’t rob the locals of their jobs. For regional economic development organizations, this is an effort to build a highly skilled community to attract start-ups and large corporations in the future. For migrant workers, this is an opportunity to try up-and-coming places with other newcomers. Peacock said the program was intriguing. “29,000 people from all states and countries around the world applied for the first round,” he said, including James Beard-nominated chefs and Emmy-winning artists. “We didn’t expect this reaction. The problem was understanding how to make a choice.” The council is now in the program with charitable support from the Walton Family Foundation. We have secured $ 1 million for. “We are considering awarding dozens of people,” Peacock said. “I don’t know exactly how much money will grow.” The money is aimed at spurring the local economy, but especially Arkansas continues to live under urgent public health orders. Therefore, some locals claim that it is being used in the wrong place. “I could probably get much of my life for $ 10,000,” said Justin Ratriff, 31, a resident of Fayetteville, who was an opponent of the initiative’s voice. .. “When they announced it, it was what everyone was talking about. It made a noise.” As these initiatives are gaining momentum across the country, so are their critics. They oppose the idea of ​​giving coveted financial assistance to prosperous out-of-town people. “You can reroute money to help those who are struggling,” Latriff said. “This program faces people who are already here and are doing their best. They have graduated from college and have a degree.” He said his goal is to be a valuable talent in the region. He said he understood that it was to attract people, but rejected the idea that people should be paid to move there. “More and more people are moving here without incentives,” he said. “In the last few years, people have just moved here and the town has expanded significantly.” (In fact, the Northwest Arkansas Council has 32 new people every day in most of 2019 and early 2020. It is estimated that he moved to this area.) Peacock acknowledged the backlash and pointed out the long-term goals of the program. “There were some local organizations that felt they should invest in some of the businesses that were damaged during the pandemic,” he said. “I think they gave a fair opinion. We’ve invested in a lot of small businesses, but what we’re focusing on here is what the future holds.” ” You don’t need an individual to move here. You need people who work in the right kind of industry. ”The city of Savannah, Georgia, is specifically targeted at technical professionals. Last June, the Savannah Bureau of Economic Development announced that it would award $ 2,000 to selected technical workers who promised to live in Georgia’s third largest city for at least two years. Applicants had at least three years of work experience and had to travel from a destination at least 60 miles away from City Hall. “We don’t want to steal from our neighbors,” said Jen Bonnett, who oversees the program. City officials see the Savannah Technology workforce incentive as an opportunity to import residents who may one day incorporate Savannah into a technology hub. “When the COVID hit, I thought this was a unique opportunity to bring the right people with skills here, so when the world reopens, we have a more skilled workforce in the community. “It will be,” Bonnett said. “If the next tech company wants to move here and hire 30 people, we already want to hire someone who can do the job here.” These people are usually economically viable. A young, mid-career age group who felt the city was missing. “This is $ 2,000, which isn’t enough for recent graduates, but not for anyone who wants to move a five-bedroom home from California to Savannah,” she said. So far, 26 recipients and their families, including Bridget Overson (41), who lives in Concord, New Hampshire and is working on user engagement with Updater, a company that streamlines the mobility process, are under the program. She said she moved to Savannah. As the pandemic continued, Overson realized he was hungry for more space and warmer weather. “I’ve been to Savannah several times on a family trip, and it’s a beautiful city,” she said. “The weather is great and the property is worth it. It’s a very attractive environment with parks, trees, nature, history and culture.” She is currently in a large garden, cheaper than the two-bedroom townhouse in the north. I live in a three bedroom ranch. $ 2,000 didn’t make her decision — she probably worked anyway — but it felt like a gift. “It cost me about $ 6,000 to move things here, so I’m certainly happy with the scholarship,” she said. “It just made it feel easier.” Other programs have shorter-term goals. At the end of November, a group of Hawaiian business and community leaders launched Movers and Shakas. It is designed to encourage professionals to live in the state for at least 30 consecutive days. Recipients will receive a free flight ticket and a discounted long-term hotel rate. In exchange, they need to engage in 15 hours of community service each month to guide local businesses and nonprofits and participate in group activities to learn about Hawaiian culture and ecosystems. The initial goal was simple. It’s about replenishing the state’s income, which lost countless tourism costs in 2020. Beyond that, Movers and Shakas hope to provide the necessary guidance and skills to local professionals who may not have regular access to technical conferences and networking events. Or graduate course. “We talk a lot about brain drain about people going to the mainland for college and careers,” said Nicole Lim, director of the program who worked on eBay from San Francisco. “We want to promote a brain drain that allows locals to build professional collaborations.” Lim hopes that some recipients will stay in Hawaii for extended periods of time to help diversify their economies. I want it. But those who leave can work as state ambassadors. “We want to create a shared sense of stewardship for Hawaiian culture,” she said. Like Arkansas, the local community is not fully involved in the initiative, especially during a pandemic. “Sure, we’re getting a backlash, and that’s what we take seriously,” Lim said. “Here in Hawaii, it’s a small community and we care about the elders.” She said the program follows state travel guidelines, including 10-day quarantine and pre-travel testing. It was. According to Lim, the Movers and Shakas program, which currently has 50 slots, has about 90,000 applications. One of them went to Krist Wong-Yamamoto, 51, from Oahu, who emigrated to the mainland to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Since then, she has lived in the Salt Lake City area and is now working as JetBlue’s Corporate Communications Manager. She always wanted to go home someday. Her parents still lived there and she missed the lifestyle. However, she was unable to take the necessary steps. “I saw this like a trial,” she said. “I needed to understand how this works and feel the lifestyle when I come back.” She spent a month networking, interacting and inspiring with fellow participants and business leaders. I checked if it would be a professional home. After completing the program, she said she was still interested in going home if the company allowed her. In some cities, appealing to outside talent in development programs is not new, but the number of interested applicants is new. Tulsa Remote, a program that provides $ 10,000 for a one-year trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, launched in the fall of 2018, but demand surged during the pandemic. Of the nearly 800 people who moved there as part of the program, 380 arrived last year. “There were 50,000 applicants in 2020,” said Ben Stewart, executive director of Tulsa Remote. “We are more selective than Harvard.” The program has no age or industry specifications. The main requirement is to clarify why you want to call Tulsa your hometown. According to Stewart, participants are required to stay for a year, but the majority remain after that deadline. The program hosts regular events such as drive-in movies, cooking classes, historic tours, and volunteer opportunities. Alana Mbanza, 35, applied for the program mainly because she was trying to move to a new location with a built-in community. “I moved from a small town to Chicago 10 years ago and had a really hard time breaking into social networks,” she said. “But literally two months after moving to Tulsa, I had enough friends to host a Super Bowl party.” She moved to Tulsa’s cute brick house and some on her first day in the city. I met a new friend. “We had a street party and we contacted a few people on the Tulsa Remote Slack Channel to see if anyone would go,” said Mbanza, writer and educational leadership coach. “These people are still my friends.” The locals now make friends with the transplant. Darku Jarmola, 30, a DJ and program manager at Tulsa’s dance club, said: “One of them has even become one of my best friends,” he said, yet resenting the idea that the city felt it had to import culture. “I’ve been having a party in Tulsa since 2008 and I’m dedicated to creating this culture of disco and house music,” he said. “If you have a stamp in New York City, Los Angeles, or a major city, you don’t understand this idea that your product is infinitely better than what we have here. It’s a bit confusing. For those who organize these programs, the key is to invest in human resources development. Peacock of the Northwest Arkansas Council said that the pandemic, due to all its devastation, created a worthy moment for the local economy, namely expanding the workforce with remote workers who did not take on jobs from the locals. I repeated that. “When the pandemic broke out, we needed to leave the Bay Area, New York City, or other metropolitan areas to see individuals trying to reset their lifestyles,” he said. “I wanted to take advantage of these transition patterns.” This article was originally published in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

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