When Vermont launched its Remote Worker Grant Program last year — offering up to $10,000 to new residents under certain circumstances — they expected a modest response and earmarked $125,000 for the initiative for the first half of 2019.
They got thousands of inquiries, and the state legislature has now made another $375,000 available for the program.
The grants are in the form of reimbursements for moving expenses, internet service costs, fees for coworking spaces, and other work-related expenses, in a total amount of up to $5,000 per year for a two-year period.
To be eligible, participants must be full-time employees — not freelancers — for a non-Vermont company, must relocate to Vermont full-time, and must perform the majority of his or her duties from a home office or coworking facility. Out-of-state workers are specified, because Vermont enjoys a record low jobless rate: Only 7,000 people are unemployed in the state.
Despite that fact, a similar program for employees of Vermont-based companies is under consideration.
To date, 170 people have qualified, and the program exhausted its original budget by April. The additional $375,000 will fund the program until it runs out. Applications are currently being accepted.
Vermont launched the initiative in an attempt to bring more young people into the state. It currently has the third-oldest population in the nation, with a median age of 43 — five years more than the national average.
Critics of the program wonder whether any newcomers it draws will stay after the two-year reimbursements are done, and whether $5,000 a year is enough to make much of a dent in Vermont’s high rents, utility bills, and taxes. Of course, where people choose to live in the state makes a difference. This is the most expensive place to live in each state.