What Would It Take To Make You Move?

by Kevin Burton

   You say Tulsa isn’t your cup of tea?  Would $10,000 be enough of a sweetener to change your mind?  

   Some cities are paying people cold hard cash and incentives to move there and take jobs working remotely.

   It’s a virus-era employment and recruiting trend according to a report by Jennifer Liu of CNBC.

   “Dozens of cities are offering up to $16,000 in cash incentives, homebuying allowances, tax credits and money toward local goods and services in hopes of enticing pandemic movers to relocate there,” Liu wrote. 

   The story points people to www.makemymove.com, an online directory launched in December of 2020, where the various offers are listed. 

   The offers change. Some $10,000 offers were the top ones I saw on a recent visit to the website, including the one from Tulsa, Oklahoma’s second largest city.  

   “Tulsa’s tech industry is growing and they are looking for individuals, open to relocating to Tulsa, to fill roles with dynamic companies like Consumer Affairs and ChowNow – to name just a few,” reads the pitch on the website.

   “inTulsa – a Tulsa-based talent attraction firm (and sister organization to Tulsa Remote) will match candidates with great tech jobs in the Tulsa business community, prep you for interviews and introduce you to hiring managers.”

   “Eligible households outside the state of Oklahoma can claim as much as $10,000 in relocation incentives, if placed in a new position by inTulsa. More than a great place to work, Tulsa is also a great place to call home. It’s a town of movers and shakers, with a long history of entrepreneurship and a rich culture of creative innovators.”

   Actually much of the moving and shaking coming from the Tulsa area is earthquakes caused by fracking – the practice by oil companies of storing wastewater from drilling activities deep underground. 

   That shaking is felt for miles, even up here in Kansas.

   “City- and statewide workforce development groups have long incentivized new residents to move there, often by offering tax breaks and loan forgiveness when they buy a home,” Liu wrote. “But with the pandemic spurring a wider acceptance of remote work, plus a greater affinity for physical space beyond dense urban areas, these programs are pushing recruitment into overdrive.”

   The website also has a “Design Your Own” feature where remote workers can list their ideal location as well as relocation incentive package. MakeMyMove cofounder Evan Hock says his team can then talk to local economic development programs to create new opportunities where there is demand.

   “For example, if we get a half dozen folks saying, ‘I’m looking for a lake community in the Southeast,’ we can go out, find it and negotiate an offer for them,” Hock said. “It’s a way for us to collect data and see opportunities to find a specific landing spot for each remote worker.”

   “Generally, people who are able to work remotely are highly educated and highly compensated — all the more reason why small communities are eager to bring them in,” Liu wrote

   “Bringing a software engineer into a community can bring hundreds of thousands in economic development directly to the region,” Hock said.

   I don’t have the kind of job skills that would quicken the pulse of an economic development group.  Also, I wouldn’t move to Oklahoma if you made me king of Oklahoma. So that one is a non-starter.

    I actually did have a low-money version of this is the old days. There is a magazine called Editor & Publisher that advertises newspaper industry jobs in its back pages.  I used to peruse those pages, get out my Rand McNally map and dream of news glory in far-flung regions.  I called it the travelling road show.  It took me from rural western Washington to a Mississippi River town in Iowa, among other places.

   Now I’m rooted by family in central Kansas. The travelling road show sounds like a great TV show to watch, but not a great life to live.

   But I love this makemymove concept.  It’s very American, the call of the open road, now accompanied by the cha-ching of a cash register.  

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