Move to Vermont for $5,000? Rural States Expand Incentives to Attract Residents
By Lisa Rathke
With jobs unfilled and young people moving away, some rural states are doubling down on efforts to attract new blood by expanding programs that offer incentives to live there.
Over the past decade, states including Vermont, South Dakota and Maine have lured new residents with job search assistance in areas that need a boost. Vermont launched its program last year, and it’s already beefing up for 2020.
Vermont’s existing program seeks to entice new residents by paying them up to $10,000 over two years to move to a state with an aging population of about 626,000 and a low unemployment rate. So far in its first year, the program has pulled in 33 new remote workers and their families — amounting to a total of 87 new residents.
“This far surpassed our expectation of how successful it would be,” said Michael Schirling, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Even though Schirling is now optimistic about the effort, some wonder if the relatively small number of new residents will make much of an impact.
Economist and recently retired University of Vermont professor Art Woolf says Vermont would need to increase its population by several thousand to make a sizeable difference in the state’s economy.