As millions of people have switched to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as their employers decide whether to continue this model indefinitely, many U.S. cities are seeing an opportunity to bring well-paid remote workers to their region.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, is one example. The Tulsa Remote program, launched in 2018 and funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, offers $10,000 for remote workers or entrepreneurs from outside Oklahoma to move to the city. Shoals, Alabama, is another city offering a similar remote worker program — $10,000 to move to the city within six months of being selected. (To be eligible, you must be employed full-time and make $52,000 or more per year.)
Vermont was an early participant in remote work grants, but as of January 2020, all funds in its Remote Worker Grant Program were dispersed to 110 people and the program was put on hold pending further study and a decision on additional funding.
One Tulsa Remote grantee was Obum Ukabam, who moved there with his wife after 10 years in Southern California. As CityLab’s Sarah Holder reports:
When he lived in California’s Moreno Valley, Ukabam said he was slowly getting “beat down by life.” He’d sit at his computer, developing webinars for a company based in Los Angeles, about 60 miles away. Only brief calls to coworkers broke up the solitude of his workday.
Then he moved to Tulsa. He still did the same remote work. But because of the flexibility of that work, the rest of Ukabam’s life started to change. Now he’s directing, writing and acting in plays. He coaches a high school debate team. He helped open a new local branch of a national nonprofit, and is starting a new organization focused on empowering youth of color, which he plans to run right out of the coworking space, 36 Degrees North.
Photo by Caleb Long, via Wikimedia Commons.