BURLINGTON, Vt — If you and your laptop are considering moving to Vermont, the state wants to sweeten the deal.
Under a bill that Gov. Phil Scott signed into law Wednesday, remote workers who put down roots in Vermont will be eligible for up to $10,000 in moving expenses and other costs.
Current residents aren't eligible. State officials hope Vermont's high quality of life will entice out-of-state workers to swap their office for a Vermont co-working space or home office.
"We think Vermont is well-positioned to capitalize on the increase in the availability of remote work," said Michael Schirling, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
Schirling said the incentive may be particularly helpful for couples considering a move to Vermont, when one spouse finds a job in Vermont but the other spouse would need to work remotely.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development has been tasked with designing the program to begin in 2019.
Am I eligible?
The law defines a qualifying worker as a person who works primarily from a Vermont home office or co-working space and is employed full time by a company that is based outside the state.
Only workers who become full-time Vermont residents after January 1, 2019 will be eligible. (The lawmaker who sponsored the bill, Sen. Ginny Lyons, D-Chittenden, hopes the incentive will help college students to remain in Vermont after graduation.) Current Vermonters are out of luck for this grant program.
"It's just for pulling people in," Lyons said.
The money will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development may further clarify the eligibility for the program in the coming months.
Which expenses will be covered?
Remote workers who move to Vermont will be able to be reimbursed for moving expenses, membership fees for a co-working space, and the costs of computer software and hardware and broadband access.
The grants will be capped at $5,000 per person per year, or $10,000 per person total, though the Agency of Commerce and Community Development will need to formally set the limits when designing the program.
How much is Vermont going to spend on this?
The remote worker incentive program will launch with a $500,000 appropriation from the Legislature, and the total payouts will be capped each year.
Vermont could spend up to $125,000 on the incentives next year — enough to cover the expenses of 25 workers who max out their possible grants.
The program would peak in 2020, when the state has been authorized to spend up to $250,000 on the incentives.
Spending may be limited by available funding.
Gov. Scott's administration is attempting various strategies for attracting workers to the state to bolster the economy.
"This is a piece of a much larger puzzle," said Schirling, the commerce secretary. "We want to learn from what the Legislature has asked us to do with this particular program and then see what lessons we can learn to apply that to other efforts to recruit workforce."