Cities and Towns Are Paying Tech Workers to Abandon Silicon Valley. It’s Working.

Christopher Mims hedcutBy Christopher Mims | Photographs by September Dawn Bottoms for The Wall Street Journal

A growing number of cities and towns all over the U.S. are handing out cash grants and other perks aimed at drawing skilled employees of faraway companies to live there and work remotely. A handful of such programs have existed for years, but they have started gaining traction during the pandemic—and have really taken off in just the past year or so. Back in October there were at least 24 such programs in the U.S. Today there are 71, according to the Indianapolis-based company MakeMyMove, which is contracted by cities and towns to set up such programs.

Because these programs specifically target remote workers who have high wages, a disproportionate share of those who are taking advantage of them work in tech—and especially for big tech companies. Companies whose employees have participated in one remote worker incentive program in Tulsa, Okla., include Adobe, Airbnb, Amazon Apple Dell, Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Lyft, Netflix, Oracle and Siemens, according to a spokeswoman for the organization.