by Chuck Chapman, Content Strategy Coordinator
Last year, Wayne wrote a fascinating piece about some small towns who are capitalizing on the freedom of remote work to entice people to stay or move to their locations now that physical location isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker for many jobs. Now we find that larger cities and even states are getting on the remote work bandwagon, placing appealing to remote workers near the top of their priority list for future planning.
Revitalizing Mid-sized cities
Mid-sized cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma are revamping their own infrastructures to lure remote workers. Tulsa is offering subsidized office and living space plus cash incentives to individual remote workers who will commit to living in one of the urban areas city planners are working to revitalize. Remote workers are natural targets for these gentrification projects as they tend to skew toward younger, single professionals.
Many cities throughout the US are like Tulsa. They have the physical infrastructure present that made them destinations for industrial employers in the 20th century. The closing of many of those factories, however, and the resultant loss of jobs led to population loss. Combined with migration to the suburbs, these cities are left with prime urban real estate either uninhabited or in disrepair. They’re looking to lure young remote workers to live in their apartments and condos, shop at their new stores, and dine in their restaurants. Whether their employers are actually located in Tulsa is irrelevant.
The hope is to lure these “digital nomads” with the right perks, but encourage enough of them to put down roots to help these efforts at revitalization have longer-lasting effects.
“You roll the dice a little bit and you get the right person whose going to start a company, create beautiful works of art, or run for office in a few years,” says Ken Levit, executive director of a foundation managing grant money being used to lure remote workers. “We’re looking for combination of wanderlust and roots.”
Making an aging state younger
Meanwhile, the State of Vermont launched a similar program in 2019. Rather than focusing on luring companies and industries to their state, Vermont is trying to attract workers from out of state who might be interested in calling the scenic New England state home. If you visit Vermont for a ski trip or other kind of vacation, don’t be surprised if you’re pitched the opportunity to network with local entrepreneurs and realtors. The hope is to reverse the trend that has made Vermont the most rapidly aging state in the U.S.
Whether it’s small towns, mid-sized cities, or even states, it’s clear remote work has the attention of governments everywhere. Planners are increasingly confident in the staying power of remote work and are including this increasing part of the workforce in their future plans.
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