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Remote Worker Program Offers Cash, Outdoor Recreation For Moving To W.Va.

Ascend WV
A couple stands at Coopers Rock overlook near Morgantown.

West Virginia officials unveiled a new program on Monday to attract outdoor enthusiasts with remote jobs to the state.

After moving to the state, participants in the Ascend WV program will receive a package valued at over $20,000. The package includes a no-strings attached $12,000, outdoor recreation, coworking space and social events.

“Absolutely, without any doubt in my mind, I could not see how anyone could not choose West Virginia,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

The program is in partnership with West Virginia University and is financed by a $25 million donation from Brad Smith, executive chairman of Intuit's board of directors and Wayne County native.

Smith said he hopes the program will attract new residents and they’ll experience the many outdoor activities that set West Virginia apart from similar programs in other states.

Applications are now open for the first 50 spots in Morgantown, with the goal of having people relocate in the early fall. In the coming months, the program will expand to Lewisburg and Shepherdstown.

When selecting cities for the program, Smith said they looked for areas with affordable housing, broadband connectivity, inclusivity, a variety of dining options, and access to outdoor recreation.

“The neat thing about these three host cities and others that will come in the state is that they had all of these qualities about them which makes them a really attractive opportunity for a remote worker,” Smith said.

He said the idea for the program started before the COVID-19 pandemic but the last year has only increased the number of remote workers. He hopes the project reverses the state’s current trend of population decline and attracts new workers.

“The gates to almost heaven are open,” Smith said.

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