Wanting to recruit remote workers to Eastern Kentucky, we started working with MakeMyMove (MMM), the nation’s first and only marketplace that matches remote workers to communities across the country offering relocation incentives.
Since our partnership, more than 1,100 people have applied to the program!
Five households have accepted relocation offers, which offer a cash incentive as well as a welcome package designed to help the new residents access activities and events tailored to their interests and become part of their new community. Recruiting the workers – rather than the companies they work for – costs less and pays returns nearly immediately.
The new residents, who hail from Maryland, Florida, Arizona, and South Carolina, will bring an average household income of $125,200 to the region where the average income is about $32,000.
MakeMyMove says the region will experience a return on investment of about $300K if they hit their goals for the number of movers.
“When you look at the ROI for each relocating mover, it’s a no-brainer,” said Colby Hall, SOAR Executive Director. “We’re grateful our funding partners in the Appalachian Regional Commission and Kentucky Power supported us in this pilot project. We look forward to growing the effort to more counties in SOAR’s service territory.”
In addition to adding to the local tax base, the Eastern Kentucky program seeks to address issues with finding healthcare workers and teachers to serve local residents. And it leverages federal and regional programs designed to improve the region’s economy.
“This is an innovative way to economic development and I’m so excited to see how this will continue to grow moving forward. Bringing folks into our community who already have a digital job has been a goal for us over the last two years following the pandemic. Finally seeing people move here is encouraging,” said Dan Mosley, Harlan County Judge/Executive. “We live in the most beautiful place on the globe and people in areas all across the country are realizing that. With advancements in the expansion of broadband, you can now live right here in the mountains of Harlan County and work for anyone in the world if you have a digital job.”
MakeMyMove Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Evan Hock said Eastern Kentucky leaders took a new idea and made it even more promising to the region.
“It’s a really smart approach,” he said “They’re leveraging existing programs to meet their specific needs in ways we hadn’t thought of. It’s really creative, but more importantly, it’s already paying returns.”
SOAR officials, who have been working since 2013 to bring high-speed broadband access to rural Kentucky, said the infrastructure is key to making the region attractive to remote workers. And if the program works as expected, they plan to expand the area within which the remote workers can move.
“We’ve been so excited by our partnership with MakeMyMove and our combined efforts to make Eastern Kentucky a premier destination for remote workers and their families looking to relocate,” Hall said. “Since our partnership began at the beginning of 2022, SOAR has had hundreds of conversations with remote workers, and we’re very confident Eastern Kentucky communities have competitive advantages- good schools, clean and safe neighborhoods, and an affordable cost of living.”
The Eastern Kentucky community incentive packages include a $5,000 cash for relocation, the opportunity to access a $2,500 bonus for a spouse who will work locally in education or healthcare, and a welcome package worth $250. They are available in Floyd, Harlan, Johnson, Letcher, and Pike counties.
Pedro Morgado, who is moving to Harlan County from Florida, said the regional environment attracted him, and the hospitality he’s received has been unlike other U.S. regions. “I have always dreamed of living in the mountains,” he said. “I grew up in a very small town in South America, and it reminds me of my childhood, but what excited me to move is the growing opportunities that the commonwealth of Kentucky offers.”
Mosley predicts Morgado and others who come to Eastern Kentucky through the MMM process will be happy in their new homes.
“The folks moving here are going to be thrilled with the quality of life, the southern hospitality, and the most beautiful views and interactions with nature they’ve ever experienced anywhere. I welcome them to the mountains, central Appalachia, and Harlan County and can’t wait to get to know them,” he said.
The Tools to Help Make This Happen
In addition to helping the five communities directly, MMM is working to develop a digital tutorial and resource document to help other Kentucky communities also take advantage of remote worker recruitment.
That tutorial will be available on the SOAR website.
Five counties in Eastern Kentucky have embraced this new economic development tool that focuses on people who can bring their jobs and significant economic value with them. It’s paying off. And economic development leaders like the tool so much, they’ve created a digital remote work playbook to help others grow as well. Two of them as a matter of fact:
- The Remote Work Playbook for Eastern Kentucky Leaders
- Remote Work Playbook Part II: Strategies to Promote Remote Worker Relocation to Eastern Kentucky
Interested or Want to Learn More?
Remote workers interested in exploring Kentucky as their new home should visit the Eastern Kentucky offer page on MMM.
Communities interested in learning more about remote recruitment should visit MMM.
You can also learn more by going to our remote worker ebooks page.
Wanting to hear some personal testimonies, watch the following Youtube video: