With creative pitches to the remote workforce, municipalities are fighting for knowledge workers harder than ever before.
Hundreds of cities and regions across the United States are luring new remote employees with incentives ranging from cash to meals to stand-in grandparents.
Some workers are considering moving away from pricey cities now that more employment is office-free, and localities are offering them cash advantages in the hopes of shifting the scales. Similar incentive programs existed prior to the epidemic, but since many traditional offices began to close in 2020, more have sprung up.
Money isn’t the only reward on the table. A program in Bemidji, Minnesota, provides a free year of coworking space, while another in Stillwater, Oklahoma, provides free coffee and martial arts courses. A sandwich shop in Topeka, Kansas, is rewarding remote workers with $1,000 for moving inside its delivery zone. A program in Indiana that includes “grandparents on demand” is one of the unique services.
Attracting talent campaigns are nothing new. Michigan’s Cool Cities initiative aimed to turn aging industrial cities into “vibrant, diverse, green, and safe places to live and work” in order to attract a young educated population that would appeal to businesses.
However, cities like Berlin demonstrate the limitations of focusing solely on the labor prior to a pandemic.
With its progressive culture, music, and arts scene, Berlin has attracted millions of young, educated workers from all over Europe each year since the collapse of the Berlin Wall. With a comparatively low cost of living, government-subsidized daycare, and strong schools, the city is also quite livable. However, there have been few work opportunities in Berlin. In the last decade, the city has had Germany’s highest unemployment rate and the second-lowest per capita income growth. Since March of 2020, the pandemic has worsened the situation, with unemployment over 111 percent.