$10,000 For Remote Workers To Move To Vermont: The Plan Makes A Big Buzz, But How Will It Work?

Jun 6, 2018

By now you've probably heard about the law that reimburses out-of-staters up to $10,000 to move to Vermont to work remotely. We're talking about that plan and the big reaction it's getting, both positive and negative. Plus, how remote work fits into Vermont's economy and what else the state is doing to support it as an option.

We're joined by Michael Schirling, Vermont secretary of commerce and community development.

We'll also hear from Bradley Holt, who works remotely in Richmond managing a team of developer advocates for IBM.

We're also joined by Samantha Sheehan, owner of the Valley.Works coworking space in Waitsfield.

Plan Overview

"Anyone who owns a business, works in a nonprofit, is working for government, at this stage knows that our number one challenge is workforce," Schirling told Vermont Edition. "We need to recruit more workers, more young families, to Vermont in order to sustain the operations that we have in our existing economy and to grow that economy. This is one fragment of that effort."

The gist of the program is it's up to $10,000 for someone who commits to living in Vermont, working remotely from home for an out-of-state business. So where is this money coming from?

"This is a General Fund appropriation across three years," Schirling explained. "And it's something that the Legislature crafted as part of this initiative."

But, there is a limit to how many people can take advantage of this program.

"There are caps for each of the three years," Schirling said. "Initial year is $125,000, followed by $250,000, followed by another $125,000."

How Will It Work?

At this point, the "how" details are still being ironed out.

The program is scheduled to begin January of next year, and Schirling said that while the program has been funded for three years, there are still many unanswered questions about how it will work.

"[It's] very important to note from the outset that we have to design a program that we have not yet begun to contemplate the details of," Schirling said. "And there will be parameters around, you know, which of the allowable areas can be reimbursed for what amount over the two-year reimbursement period that's allowed by the law.”

Basically it's not that a remote worker who moves to Vermont gets a guaranteed $10,000 — which Schirling notes some of the recent buzz around the plan seemed to imply — but how they decide who gets how much is still being figured out.

What Has The Response Been?

Questions around how the program will ultimately work hasn't stopped it from generating interest.

Schirling said those national stories about the program led to the flood of interest, including "800 direct responses."

“There have been significant increases in newsletter signups," Schirling continued. "Our '802+You' newsletter has had 4,000 additional people in the last few days added to it. Our ThinkVermont.com traffic is up 177 percent.”

Broadcast on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.