West Virginia offers cash, free stuff to entice remote workers to move there

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FILE – In this Aug. 30, 2012 file photo whitewater rafters are shown rafting the lower New River Gorge, near Fayetteville, W.Va. (Lawrence Pierce/Charleston Gazette-Mail via AP, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (NEXSTAR) — West Virginia on Monday launched a program to lure outdoor enthusiasts to live in the rural state with incentives of cash and free passes for recreational destinations.

The state is recruiting remote workers in the hopes of leveraging one of its most appealing assets, its natural beauty, to stem a population loss in the only state that has fewer residents now than in 1950.

“We are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their home,” West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement.

Program participants will receive $12,000 cash. They’ll also get passes for a year for adventures such as whitewater rafting and golf.

“Today’s announcement couldn’t come at a better time for West Virginia,” Justice said. “We’re leading the nation’s vaccine rollout, welcoming investment from major companies like Virgin Hyperloop, and now have a program in place that offers remote workers the freedom to live and work in paradise.”

According to a statement from the West Virginia Tourism Office, the state’s cost of living is 16% below the national average, and its Legislature recently passed a bill to reform the state’s corporate tax laws, making it “a haven for all remote workers.”

“With remote work becoming a permanent option for more and more professionals, we’re excited to introduce them to the blend of adventure and serenity that makes life in West Virginia a permanent vacation,” said Secretary Chelsea Ruby of the West Virginia Department of Tourism.

The program is now accepting applications for the first 50 openings in Morgantown. The full relocation package is valued at over $20,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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