Drum roll, please . . . We’re excited to announce a new program to attract talent to Bloomington! The Bloomington Remote program offers free lifetime coworking membership to The Mill and some other juicy perks to entice remote workers to move to Bloomington.
What’s the big deal about remote workers? Well, with an average salary of $91,000, for each remote worker who moves to town, the return is $11,000 to the local tax base and $50,000 in consumer spending—in the first year. Remote workers also bring talent to our community, and put Bloomington on the map for their peers and their employers.
Tulsa sparked the trend to attract remote workers with the program they launched in 2018. Tulsa Remote offered $10,000 in cash as part of their package, and in the first year, they received 30,000 applications from all over the globe for about 300 slots. Post-pandemic, the movement has grown as more people realize that with remote work, you can live anywhere, including places with much lower cost of living and more relaxed quality of life than traditional tech hubs. Cities all over the US are offering incentives to attract remote workers.
Rest assured, The Mill is not looking to attract 30,000 people to Bloomington, or even 300. We’re starting with 10, and we’re not offering a cash incentive at this time. Bloomington Remote is offering a way to connect to a great new home quickly, through The Mill’s awesome cowork community and a package of concierge onboarding support programs, with the help of our sponsor Velocities. We want people to move here because it’s a great fit. Not everyone wants to live in a smaller city or in the Midwest. But for some of us, Bloomington has that “just right” Goldilocks quality: small enough that you don’t have to spend your life driving, but oversized in culture, great sports, trails and parks, music, and of course, delicious food.
Indiana is the crossroads of America, and we’re right at the heart of that intersection. We’re a notoriously blue dot in a notoriously red state. We care about social justice here, and yeah, we’ve got work to do, and we get noisy about the best way to do it, because we care. We’ve got basketball fanatics and granola connoisseurs, techies and farmers, students and townies, Tibetan monks and Hoosier folks. We’ve got tenderloin sandwiches bigger than your head and the sweetest corn, vegan donuts and awesome international cuisine, county fair corndogs and artisanal popsicles, fantastic local beer, wine, and spirits. In Bloomington, you can bike, hike, paddle, sail, float, camp, and climb. You can catch a cutting-edge IU opera production like “The Revolution of Steve Jobs,” dance to Afro pop at the Lotus Festival, or simply enjoy live bluegrass while hunting for the perfect tomatoes at one of our farmer’s markets. We think life is sweet here, and we’ve got room for a few more talented people.
Why do we need more talent? Because we need more jobs with higher salaries. It used to be that employers and jobs chased tax credits. Today, they chase talent. If we want more and better jobs in Bloomington, we need to make our talent pool irresistible to the employers of the future. We’re already the most highly educated population in Indiana, but did you know that even workers with only a high school diploma earn more when they work for tech companies? Indiana is gaining cred in the tech community, but the fact is, as a state, we rank 41st for jobs in the high-paying sector of advanced services (that’s software and tech).
Fortunately, Bloomington has done a great job of building a city with the quality of life to attract tech talent. That’s why Techpoint gave us the 2021 Mira Award for Indiana’s Rising Tech City. We think it’s time to put the pedal to the metal, and that’s where Bloomington Remote comes in.
We aren’t the only ones who think remote workers are good for Indiana. Earlier this year, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce promoted House Bill 1416 (Remote Worker Grants and Remote Work Sites), a bipartisan bill to establish a statewide remote worker grant program. The program would reimburse up to $5,000 in taxes or moving costs for remote workers who move to Indiana and work here for at least a year. Workers who earn more than $100,000 would be eligible for $8,500. The bill died in committee, but it remains a top priority for the Chamber, who see it as essential to making Indiana competitive for talent and continue to press the cause.
If all this still seems weird, or like a long shot, guess who’s ahead of us in the game? Purdue. (Feeling a sudden rush of competitive spirit?!) Purdue’s new program set out to pay a handful of remote workers $5,000 to move to a new intentional community in West Lafayette, and in just a few short months of promoting their modest program, they’ve attracted almost five times as many remote workers as planned. Some folks won’t get the $5K but are making the move anyway, and most have no previous connection whatsoever to Indiana. If Purdue and West Lafayette can do it, why can’t we?