Remote Workers July 13, 2020

What can small towns / small town governments do to attract remote workers?

Stefan Palios @StefanAllDay

Hey all. I'd love this group's perspectives on what small towns / small town governments can do to attract and retain remote workers.

With the pandemic leading many companies to announce permanent remote / hybrid situations, it's a huge opportunity for small towns to win. Sure, they have cheaper real estate, but what's it really going to take to draw remote workers out of cities?

EDIT: I'm specifically referring to small towns that are looking to capitalize on the remote work trend to draw workers out of cities. As in, those workers used to be in an office, are already living in cities, but are now given the opportunity to move if they want to because their company just went remote.

EDIT: I ended up doing more research and writing a post about this topic for my newsletter, Remotely Inclined. Here's the post: https://remotelyinclined.substack.com/p/what-small-towns-and-cities-need

  1. 4

    Good internet.
    Some high quality independently run shops for day to day essentials.
    Friends for my kids.
    Good schools / home schooling opportunities.
    Some likeminded people.

    1. 2

      Agree with this completely. Can't think of what else to add.

    2. 1

      Great points - thank you!

  2. 1

    In my opinion, if remote workers would like to stay in a certain area, they'll do it anyway.
    If their conditions are met (for example those listed by @rosiesherry), then it already sounds like a perfect place.

    Everything else is a matter of personal preference. Some of us just love the big city vibe and others (like me) prefer rural areas or smaller towns.

    The remote work is a big opportunity for smaller centers indeed. Attracting remote workers can't be successfully done by the system-based solutions IMO.

    But at the same time, in the state of Alabama, the special program for remote workers has been launched recently (it's called Remote Shoals). I don't know the details but they're willing to pay up to $10k for a relocation.

    Have you guys heard about it? 🤔

    1. 2

      Remote Shoals is a cool program!

      I actually ended up doing further research on this topic and publishing an article about it for my newsletter, and Remote Shoals is one of the examples I highlighted along with TulsaRemote: https://remotelyinclined.substack.com/p/what-small-towns-and-cities-need

      1. 1

        Wow, thanks. Looks like you've made good research 👍 Impressive.

  3. 1

    I currently live in a small city, and have customers that live in small towns. Some so small they have 1 store, no stop lights, no cell service, and a few houses, but the places have names. I myself have lived in a small town.

    I'm a little confused, as you mention "cheaper real estate" and "draw remote workers out of cities", but if the workers are remote, then they don't need to live there, they just need to work remotely. What it takes is jobs.

    With covid, most of my clients in small towns have laid off a portion of their staff, closed up shop for good, or not hiring. At some point when covid restrictions subside and companies are hiring again, one would think they will be better prepared to hire people using remote tools (ie Zoom interview), and hire remote workers for those tasks that can be done remotely. No moving to small towns necessary.

    1. 1

      I'm specifically referring to small towns that are looking to capitalize on the remote work trend to draw workers out of cities.

      When you have ultimate choice of where to live, but currently live in a city, what would a small town need to do to entice you to move? Yes, there's cheaper real estate, but what else?

      1. 2

        Ah okay I misunderstood you, my fault. The one thing that goes along with cheaper real estate is lower property taxes. Extremely low in many places. Although with low property taxes you'll have to expect fewer services such as street cleaning/plowing in the winter, volunteer fire dept instead of paid, possibly police located hours away, etc. I am actually prepping my house so that in a years time I can move to a smaller town. The one and only thing that is a requirement is fast internet. Rural internet usually sucks (at least here), so it limits where I can move.

        1. 1

          Fair point - totally hadn't thought of the services side of this conversation. Thanks for bringing it up!

  4. 1

    Be a good place in general to live? Low taxes?

    Where to live really has nothing to do with remote work. A good place to live is so based on an individuals preferences I don’t know where one could even begin. Especially with the ever changing world, it’s even more about personal feelings than any one thing.