New England's least-populated state is hoping to grow its workforce in the new year and is willing to pay people to move there to achieve its goal.
"Our hope is this is a catalyst," said Lindsay Kurrle, the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce & Community Development, referring to a new program aimed at encouraging job applicants from out-of-state to look for work in Vermont and move.
Many Vermont employers have long said it's hard to fill positions because of the state's low unemployment rate and a population that's small and aging.
"There just are not enough people in the pipeline here in our state," Kurrle observed.
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Someone who relocates to Vermont for a new job in 2020, and who lives in the state full-time, could qualify for up to $7,500 in grants to help them cover moving costs under the new program, authorized by the Vermont Legislature and signed into law by Republican Gov. Phil Scott.
Those costs could include first and last months' rent, the movers or truck rental, or related charges that otherwise could be impediments to moving to a different state.
"Hopefully this will help us move the needle and address our crisis," Kurrle told NECN and NBC10 Boston.
Ray McGaughey moved to the White River Junction area after a previous offering, also OK'd by the legislature, provided similar grants to workers who could telecommute from Vermont.
"Now I'm a Vermont resident," McGaughey told NECN and NBC10 Boston's Vermont affiliate, NBC 5 News, in late October. "If you're looking for a chiller lifestyle, maybe other than a big city, you should consider Vermont."
The new pot of nearly $1.2-million in state dollars is focused on attracting workers to traditional jobs, not those remote ones.
In a separate effort to boost Vermont’s population, a Rutland County economic development group is using focused digital ads and personalized conversations to boast of the county's world-class skiing and riding at Killington, as well as other outdoor activities like mountain biking, to lure workers.
The Rutland Red Carpet program has found success with a concierge guide that shows how much more affordable a home is in the Rutland area than, say, in Boston, explained Steve Costello, one of the Red Carpet ambassadors.
"A really personal touch can make a huge difference in whether someone makes a decision to move to a place," Costello said.
Costello added that attracting more residents and workers for several large employers is important to the future of Rutland County.
"It is very different than what has traditionally been an economic development tactic," Costello noted. "Most economic development has been focused on bringing in that next big huge company. And we have the opposite problem. We don't necessarily need another big company, although that would great, but we need people to fill the jobs that are available here right now."
The state is hopeful the first-come, first-serve grants will bring in hundreds of new workers in 2020, Kurrle said.
The commerce secretary noted that spouses, partners, and friends could also move to Vermont, all contributing to growing the tax base and employers' output.
For more information on Vermont's new worker relocation grant program, visit this website.