Governor Kristi Noem is endorsing Mitchell’s offer to pay (entice, bribe…) people $1,000 to move to the home of the Corn Palace. (That big new soybean plant for which the Governor just moved some ceremonial dirt could achieve the same goal simply by offering 50 cents more per hour for a 250-day workyear to the 85 workers it will need.)
Mitchell is competing with several locales in the nation that are offering more money for more talent:
Tulsa Remote, a program funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, is probably the one that’s best known. It offers $10,000 to people who work remotely to move to that city. More than 2,000 people have taken advantage of the offer. Being backed by a gigantic foundation certainly helped this one to do well — and generate publicity around the program in the national press.
Most of the other programs are much smaller, or just are getting started. But they all seem to show promise. One of them has been Ascend West Virginia. This one is also philanthropically funded, with a $25 million grant from former Intuit CEO Brad Smith.
Ascend WV offers $20,000 worth of incentives to people relocating to the state. This includes $12,000 in cash, a year of free recreational activities and outdoor gear rental, a free co-working space, and social programming to help newcomers connect to their new communities. The program is targeting five specific communities or regions: New River Gorge, Morgantown, Greenbrier Valley, the Eastern Panhandle and Greater Elkins. This allows Ascend WV to generate community readiness to welcome these new residents.
…Eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian region has also begun experimenting with remote work incentives, offering a $5,000 cash payment to people who relocate, with an additional $2,500 for anyone who moves with a spouse who works in education or health care. SOAR, the nonprofit running the program, hopes to see 25 initial relocations through this program [Aaron M. Renn, “Pay People to Move to Your State or Region? Maybe It’s Not Such a Bad Idea,” Governing, 2023.09.19].
I’m pleased to see that Mitchell is at least starting to treat people like corporations in terms of giving out government largesse, though $1,000 seems a paltry sum compared to the millions we hand out to corporations. But the long-running bidding war of tax breaks and other handouts for corporations results in a mostly futile race to the bottom that depletes public coffers and populates the industrial landscape with fly-by-night corporations seeking to maximize their profits with little investment in their desperate bribing communities. Will offering handouts to individuals for moving to Mitchell produce similar detrimental effects?