Vermont, the state with the third-oldest population in the country, is experimenting with a program that will pay people up to $10,000 over two years if they move there and work remotely. However, the money can only be used on moving costs, new computer equipment and co-working spaces.
“If you work remotely for an employer that's located outside of the state of Vermont, Vermont will help defray the expenses of relocating to the state, as well as any hardware and software expenses you need to do your job,” explains Joan Goldstein, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Economic Development, which is putting the Remote Worker Grant Program together. “And if you have interest in joining up with a co-working space, it would help defray the expense of rent.”
The goal of the program is to ease the transition for new Vermont residents and get more young people — and people of all ages — to move to the state, Goldstein tells Here & Now’s Robin Young.
“When people think about relocating, there are so many elements to that — not just relocating their home, but also then having to find a job,” says Goldstein. “This idea would be that they could move to the state but keep their current job.
“We need more people in the state, and some people, as a result of all of the press, are interested in working for an employer in the state. So it's got ancillary benefits as well as the intention of getting remote workers into the state.”
On Vermont’s aging workforce
“We are an older state for sure, and we just were looking at some of the in-state moving statistics, and it turns out the people who are moving to the state are older. We actually want to attract all kinds — we're not necessarily thinking about just one type of age. I moved to the state when I was middle-aged. So we [are] definitely welcoming to all ages.”
"The sentiment has swung, where people are acknowledging that we need youth, and we need more people.”Joan Goldstein
On the interest in the program so far, and who gets selected for it
“We already have applicants. … There's been tremendous activity already. The website has received about 10,000 hits just on that page alone, and we're getting inquiries that are legitimate inquiries, not just, 'Oh, pay me 10,000.' So we are quite enthused.
“Basically, [it’s] first come, first served. So as soon as somebody fills out a complete application, the application will require verification from the employer that this person is indeed an employee working remotely for them. They will need proof of residency in Vermont. So as soon as we get a fully complete application, we'll be able to issue a grant agreement.”
On residents who worry that with more people moving to the state, Vermont will lose some of its character
“I think I would hear that more several years ago than what I hear now, and that's because over the period of the last decade, population has been flat to decreasing. So, I don't hear that fear of overpopulation as much as I hear the fear of, 'Oh my goodness, what if we don't get enough people to take the jobs that are available? What if we don't have enough students in our schools?' So I think that has swung a bit.
“Obviously, there are definitely people who don't want any change and don't really want to see crowds. … When I drive into Burlington, sometimes there's a traffic jam, and it's just like, 'Whoa. How could this be?’ But I think that the sentiment has swung, where people are acknowledging that we need youth, and we need more people.”
Cassady Rosenblum produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Jackson Cote adapted it for the web.
This segment aired on January 3, 2019.
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