West Virginia Cash-for-Worker Program Seeks More Applicants

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A program offering $ 20,000 in cash and incentives for remote workers to relocate to West Virginia has attracted dozens of newcomers and is now accepting applications for a second host city.

Thousands of people have inquired about the opportunity and 53 new residents from as far away as Germany are welcomed to the northern university town of Morgantown. Now, the public-private program has launched a second phase, hoping to attract new permanent residents to Lewisburg in the southeastern corner of the state, the state tourism board said Thursday. in a press release.

The 2020 census found that West Virginia has lost more of its residents than any other state over the past decade and is now the only state with fewer residents than in 1950. Residents quit jobs in the coal, steel and other industries. . The nation’s second largest coal producer, West Virginia has lost 56% of its coal mining jobs since 2009 as power plants shift to renewable energy sources.

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To begin to reverse the exodus, West Virginia is leveraging one of its most attractive assets, its “almost heavenly” natural beauty, to directly attract outdoor enthusiasts whose jobs allow them to work anywhere. ‘they are.

As part of the remote work program, out-of-state participants relocating to West Virginia will receive $ 12,000 along with annual passes to enjoy rafting, golf, rafting, golf, and rafting. rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing and ziplining. The complete relocation package is valued at over $ 20,000.

Morgantown is home to the University of West Virginia. On Saturdays, when the soccer team plays at home, it easily rides in the state’s largest city. Quintina Mengyan jumped at the opportunity to move from Chicago last month, bringing her boyfriend and dog.

Director of customer services for online ticket vendor Vivid Seats, Mengyan had noticed offers for similar programs elsewhere, but was particularly drawn to an advertisement encouraging the move to West Virginia.

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After so many months of working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, “I felt like the walls were closing,” she said. “And it got to the point where I really had to rely on the outdoors” to get out of her workspace.

“That’s what sparked the idea,” she says. “I’m like ‘yeah, I’m gonna apply just for the fun of it. Then I started to think about it more seriously and I was like, “I think I would really, really appreciate this.”

She is now busy making plans to attend the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers games an hour’s drive north of Morgantown. She hopes to take a week off in October to explore West Virginia’s distinctively dramatic fall colors. And she has already discovered that the state is not flat, like Chicago.

“We never realized how much a flat parking space was meant to be appreciated until now,” Mengyan said.

The 53 new residents come from 21 US states and Washington, DC One is from Berlin. All of them share a love for the outdoors, but their fields of work vary widely, from healthcare and management to manufacturing and technology, the tourism board said. The largest number are from California, and their average income is around $ 105,000. When families are included, the number of new residents is 110.

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Because less than 1% of applicants have been accepted for Morgantown openings, the remote work program encourages those who were not selected in the first phase to apply again. And it offers a consolation prize: $ 2,500 in mortgage assistance to all 7,500 people who applied, if they still decide to move to West Virginia.

Over the next five years, the program plans to welcome more than 1,000 new remote workers to the state.

Lewisburg, once voted “America’s Coolest Little Town,” has a population of approximately 4,000 and is located near the State Fairgrounds, less than an hour from the New River National Park and Preserve Throat.

Lewisburg is “the perfect place to escape big city life without sacrificing modern life,” said state tourism director Chelsea Ruby. “It’s a perfect little town with a charming downtown area, a thriving arts scene and accessible outdoor recreation.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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