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Vermont poised to expand remote worker grants

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 8, 2019 at 4:05 PM EDT
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A signature program to lure young families to Vermont with financial incentives is expanding after support from lawmakers and the governor.

Vermont officials launched the Remote Worker Grant earlier this year. It allows people to use up to $10,000 to move to Vermont and continue working with their previous employer from their new home.

It's an attempt to bring younger people, like Rachel Hung, to the state and help the economy. She came here from Florida.

"It is cold and snowy for a lot of the year, particularly this year, but, you know, if you can find ways to enjoy that and get out and do it," Hung said.

So far the program has resulted in a total of 87 new Vermont residents, exceeding the state's expectations.

"This specific program was something that the legislature came up with and this year what we did is take the success we were able to find with that program and expand it and make some alterations to make it work for Vermont companies," said

Vermont Commerce Secretary Michael Schirling.

The expanded program will begin in January of 2020. The state will compensate out-of-staters up to $7,500 to live and work in rural Vermont.

But some say the new effort may not be as easy a sell. "It's a shift in culture for people to come and live here, often times their spouse can't find a job, wages outside of Vermont are much more competitive than what most companies can offer here," said Jill James, who works for Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls.

She says if the program can find success, it could make all the difference for a smaller company that wants to expand. "It generates the buzz around Vermont, people start looking, thinking it's an interesting thing, to be able to give any kind of incentive to bring someone here is only positive for all of us as Vermonters who live and work here and want the businesses to thrive and grow."

The remote worker program generated interest that stat officials hope will continue to peak interest in the Green Mountain State.

Schirling says the grant program has created so much publicity, other cities and states are now adopting similar programs.

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