West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says a new program offers remote workers "the freedom to live and work in paradise"—along with $12,000 cash. The state's tourism office is focusing on outdoor activities in its push to attract workers to the state, Business Insider reports. The AscendWV program launched this week includes a year's worth of free outdoor activities, including whitewater rafting and skiing, along with the cash incentive and free access to co-working spaces. The program is launching with 50 spots in Morgantown, home of West Virginia University, and the state plans to expand it to cities and town in all 55 counties. The $12,000 will be paid in monthly installments that total $10,000 in the first year, followed by $2,000 paid at the end of the second year the remote worker lives in West Virginia.
The state says the next two host cities to invite applications for relocation packages in the program will be Shepherdstown and Lewisburg, WVNS reports. "We are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their home," Justice said in a statement. He said the program was made possible by a $25 million gift from Intuit chairman Brad D. Smith and his wife, Alys. Smith said it has always been his "dream to give back to the state that forever has my heart," and the program's goal is to "capitalize on national workforce trends by leveraging the state's incredible outdoor recreation assets." The AP notes that West Virginia is the only state with a lower population now than in 1950. (Hawaii is also trying to attract remote workers.)