Vermont is willing to pay new residents who work remotely for an out-of-state employer in hopes of increasing its population and workforce.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott has signed into law a bill that will pay those new residents up to $10,000 over a period of two years in an effort to attract younger people to the state.
"Vermont isn't just a place to ski and try craft beers, it's an ideal state for raising a family and growing a business," Department of Tourism and Marketing commissioner Wendy Knight said Friday.
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The Remote Worker Grant Program would cover relocation expenses and other costs. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. Scott signed the bill Wednesday.
The law defines a qualifying worker as working primarily from a Vermont home office or co-working space and employed full-time by an out-of-state based company.
The state would award grants on a first-come, first-served basis and has allocated $500,000 for the next three years to the program.
"The intent is to spread it to as many people," said Joan Goldstein, commissioner for the Department of Economic Development. "If the program is successful, we'd probably ask for more funding."
Goldstein said that logistics and parameters need to be established before they can determine how many grants they will be able to support.
Vermont has the third highest median age (42.7 years) in the nation behind New Hampshire (43.0) and Maine (44.6), according to a report last year from the U.S. Census Bureau. Its population overall is flat or slightly shrinking. Last year saw the state's first increase in population in four years, and it was by a mere .05 percent, according to the bureau.
Another state program, Stay to Stay Weekends, aims to convert tourists into full-time Vermont residents. It was announced in March by Scott and the Department of Tourism. The three-day lodging and networking package connects visitors with local employers, entrepreneurs and community leaders during their weekend stay. It's been tried several weekends this year so far, but attendance has been sparse.
Knight said they have more work to do to turn the idea into a successful program. The program's next pilot weekend is in mid-August.
Several U.S. cities have provided incentives for newcomers to move, including New Haven, Connecticut and Detroit. Alaska uses oil royalties to pay its residents to live in the state.
Scott has called for measures he feels will make Vermont more economically attractive so young people will stay and others might move here, such as tuition-free college for National Guard members and construction of affordable housing.