West Virginia has launched a remote-work program, aimed at recruiting outdoor-enthusiast professionals to the Mountain State.
Ascend WV is supported by West Virginia native Brad D. Smith, former CEO of Intuit, and his wife Alys. The program allows adventurers to enjoy world-class outdoor recreation, uncrowded spaces, and a low cost of living while staying fully connected to their jobs. It comes with the country’s best remote worker incentive package: $12,000 and a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation. Applications are being accepted for Morgantown―the first of many participating cities.
“We are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their home,” said Jim Justice, the state’s governor. “Today’s announcement couldn’t come at a better time for West Virginia. We’re leading the nation’s vaccine rollout, welcoming investment from major companies like Virgin Hyperloop, and now have a program in place that offers remote workers the freedom to live and work in paradise.”
The Ascend WV Remote Work Program was made possible by a $25 million gift to West Virginia University’s Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (Smith OEDC). In six months, the Smith OEDC partnered with the state Department of Tourism and Department of Economic Development to create this transformational program. Born and raised in Kenova, West Virginia, Smith left the state to pursue his dreams but never lost the passion for his mountain home. Now, he is giving back to the state that gave him the foundation, innovative chops, and perseverance in hopes of helping others achieve their own success fueled by an experience-driven lifestyle.
“It has always been my dream to give back to the state that forever has my heart,” said Smith. “Together, Alys and I set forth a vision to create a program that would allow West Virginia to capitalize on national workforce trends by leveraging the state’s incredible outdoor recreation assets. West Virginians have been ascending mountains for generations. Now, we’re inviting remote workers from across the country to join us in our ascent to rise to new heights, together. They’ll quickly discover there’s nothing like the inspiration of the mountains to fuel their pursuits.”
A Gartner survey found 47 percent of company executives will allow employees to work from home full-time after the pandemic. The fact remote work is here to stay has prompted programs around the country; however, West Virginia is the only state to use its natural assets to recruit and retain talent. To ensure participants experience West Virginia’s extraordinary landscapes, roaring rivers and vibrant small towns, the program includes these incentives:
- Cash – $12,000 in cash with no strings attached. The funds can be used to assist with moving and living expenses or explore new passions and hobbies in West Virginia.
- Free Outdoor Recreation – One year of free outdoor recreation to fully explore 2,032 miles of whitewater, 4,000 rock climbing routes, 1.5 million acres of public lands, 1,500 miles of public trails and America’s newest national park: New River Gorge Park and Preserve.
- Free coworking space – A break free from the ordinary with access to inspiring spaces in the heart of thriving mountain towns. Here, remote workers will have modern amenities to stay connected and access to more than $1,200 in free outdoor gear rentals for use with family and friends.
- Professional advancement – The ability to earn remote work certifications through West Virginia University and access to John Chambers College of Business and Economics’ entrepreneurship ecosystem.
- Networking – The chance to be a guest at a variety of exclusive events to connect entrepreneurs with state business leaders and guided excursions to experience West Virginia’s abundant outdoor recreation assets.
The full relocation package is valued at more than $20,000 and can be viewed at www.AscendWV.com.
Applications for the Ascend WV Remote Work Program are open for the first 50 spots in the host city of Morgantown, which is known for its bustling college town atmosphere, cuisine, culture and proximity to outdoor recreation opportunities. Applicants interested in this first host city will be surrounded by nearly 100 paddling runs, 1,400 climbing routes, nearly 200 mountain bike trails and access to seven different ski areas.
And while Morgantown – along with Shepherdstown and Lewisburg ― are preparing to welcome the first class of remote workers, organizers are already considering ways to expand the Ascend WV Remote Work Program to additional communities.
To learn more and apply to the Ascend WV Remote Work Program, visit www.AscendWV.com.