Just as bidding wars for housing have become common in large metros due to low inventories, bidding wars for new workers and residents are becoming common in smaller, more rural areas due to labor shortages, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal.

North Platte, Nebraska is one such area that needs workers in manufacturing, factories, health care centers and with the railroad. Among the area’s various enticements designed to attract new workers and residents, North Platte offered $12,000 checks to developers for each new house they built. Its local Chamber of Commerce gave away $10,000 checks to people who committed to living and working in the area. The area also agreed to match signing bonuses up to $5.000 and offered employers $5,000 to recruit out-of-town workers.

St. Clair, MI, just 40 miles north of Detroit, advertised $15,000 payouts to STEM graduates. Much like reverse mortgages, those STEM workers who decided to move away had to refund that money.

Workers in the arts, science, technology or engineering are invited to come to Hamilton, Ohio. To sweeten the pie, an enticement of $5,000 to be used for student loan payments is being offered. These workers have to commit to live in downtown Hamilton for two years.

Hamilton, Ohio

Tim E. Kerle, director of the Grant County Economic Growth Council in Indiana, is offering $5,000 towards the purchase of a house to people with “advanced training or a college degree” to live, work and remain in the county for 5 years. If they move away prior to the 5 years, they are obligated to return the money. Additionally, Grant County’s Chamber of Commerce is coming up with additional, discreet scholarship money valued at $9,000 for student loan repayment.

Marne, Iowa is offering free land parcels to people willing to move to the area. Mike Allgrum, an economics professor at the University of South Dakota, told the Wall Street Journal that such financial incentives liken a “modern day 1862 Homestead Act” whereby the government offered public lands to settlers who were willing to move out West.

The State of Vermont just recently passed a bill this May to pay remote workers $10,000 to relocate. Going into effect in January 2019, this bill is designed to attract young, mobile employees who, at this stage in their lives, are flexible to move anywhere. The state obviously hopes those young remote workers will stay and have their families in Vermont.

Governor Phil Scott of Vermont spoke for many leaders among smaller, more rural areas suffering from labor shortages when he told the Wall Street Journal, “We must think outside the box to help more (people) enter the labor force and to attract more working families and young professionals to the state.”

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