US cities are putting up cash (and free coffee) to attract remote workers

To attract remote workers, US cities are offering cash incentives, subsidized housing, and other incentives (like free coffee).


October 12, 2021

Fast-food chains have long doled out perks to attract customers (who doesn’t want to spend $100+ on Chipotle burrito bowls to get one for free?).

Now US cities are getting into the act: According to the Wall Street Journal, there are 24+ community incentive programs to attract remote workers.

The perks on offer run the gamut

Curated by a service called MakeMyMove, they include:

  • Topeka, Kansas: Up to $10k in cash
  • Stillwater, Oklahoma: $5k toward a home purchase + an annual $2k stipend for coffee + free martial arts classes
  • The Shoals, Alabama: Up to $10k reimbursement (for housing and relocation expenses)

This isn’t the first time cities have offered perks to attract people. One major difference is that previous incentive schemes mostly aimed to attract corporations, not individuals.

There is some friction, though

  • Geographical limitations (e.g., Bemidji, Minnesota, requires applicants to be at least 60 miles away)
  • The top dollar perks typically go to homeowners, longer stays, and higher salaries (there’s also a minimum salary requirement)
  • Local residents may balk at paying people to move into town

Either way, remote work is here to stay. The Ladders — a job site — notes that remote job listings paying >$80k make up 15% of all listings, vs. 4% at the end of 2019.

To really woo these workers, cities might have to start breaking out free burrito bowls.

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