MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Staff from WVU and the West Virginia Department of Tourism have selected the first three cities to participate in the Brad & Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative. Intuit executive and Kenova native Brad Smith and wife Alys established the initiative with a $25 million gift in October of 2020.
The program uses the benefits of beautiful scenery and numerous outdoor activities to target employed people who have the ability to work from anywhere to live in West Virginia. Outdoor enthusiasts or young families that bring a diverse background are prioritized in the competitive process.
Beginning as early as this summer Morgantown, Shepherdstown and Lewisburg could begin accepting remote workers as early as this summer.
“Alys and I are committed to the success of this program and its ability to leverage West Virginia’s outdoor assets to attract fresh talent, cultivate dynamic communities and continue to fuel the entrepreneurial and innovative thinking that are hallmarks of the state,” Smith said.
Governor Jim Justice issued the following statement:
“I’d like to personally congratulate the communities of Morgantown, Shepherdstown, and Lewisburg for being selected as the program’s first cities that will accept remote workers starting as early as this summer. I have spent time in each of these towns and I know you all will roll out the red carpet and give these new West Virginia residents the warmest of welcomes. What I love most about the selection of these three cities is that they each offer their own version of Almost Heaven.”
Some of the benefits offered by the remote worker program are financial incentives, free and subsidized outdoor trips and activities, free co-working space and networking events, according to Danny Twilley, assistant dean of the Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative.
“The three communities – Morgantown, Shepherdstown and Lewisburg – all have unique characteristics that make them great communities but also have similar traits that are attractive to remote workers,” Twilley said. “These towns have a recipe that make them vibrant places to live with great local food, shopping, arts, culture and tremendous outdoor recreation assets. When you pair this with access to good schools, medical care and access to transportation, we have three communities that will appeal to remote workers who want to have a great place to live, work and play.”
The governor has also worked with lawmakers on House Bill 2026. The bill adopts uniform provisions to modernize income tax collection for the remote workforce.
“We are thrilled to have joined forces with the Smiths and WVU on this initiative. It not only has my personal support, but it has the full support from my Tourism, Commerce, and Economic Development departments to assist with marketing as well as community readiness and development,” Justice said,” We are also working to modernize our corporate tax structure to allow us to attract and retain these remote workers. With bipartisan support, I’m happy that the House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed my remote worker tax bill (HB 2026) and am hopeful that the Senate will also pass this important legislation so I can sign it into law.
The program also engages younger people with the Science Adventure School and incorporates STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lessons in an outdoor classroom.