Apr 01, 2021EntrepreneurshipEnvironmentArticle

West Virginia Launches Remote Worker Incentive Program

With 35 state parks, 98,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 1.5 million acres of public land and parks, West Virginia is full of outdoor recreation opportunities that can drive people to move to the state. That’s why the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (OEDC), funded by Alys and Brad D. Smith through the Wing 2 Wing Foundation, is officially launching its Ascend WV remote worker program.

In October 2020, Alys and Brad—through the Wing 2 Wing Foundation—donated $25 million to West Virginia University to develop the OEDC. Now, just six months later, Ascend WV is open to applicants.

The program aims to bring experienced talent to the state, and stimulate economic growth and innovation in the area. It will also enhance opportunities for local talent to connect with people from all over the country and drive collaboration.

“Remote work has great potential in our state, and I know this is just the beginning,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. “While three cities were selected to get this program started, I know there’s more goodness to come.”

To start, the three cities in West Virginia participating in the program are Morgantown, Lewisburg and Shepherdstown. Applications for Morgantown launch on April 12, while the other applications will be available at a later date.

Over the next few years, the program aims to bring 1,000 new residents to West Virginia. Each of the participating cities will welcome 25-50 remote workers into their cities at a time. Accepted applicants will each receive $12,000 and a year’s worth of outdoor recreation access across the state.

With COVID-19 transforming the opportunities for remote work, people now have the opportunity to live where they want and work from wherever that may be. The program is hoping to capture the first groups of workers leaving behind the city for a different lifestyle, driven by outdoor experiences and at a lower cost of living.

To learn more about the program or apply head to the Ascend West Virginia Remote Workers site.