Featured in Fortune: Could Tulsa and West Virginia be almost heaven for remote workers?

Forging a similar path in his home state is former Intuit CEO Brad D. Smith, who recently launched West Virginia Remote in partnership with West Virginia University; the program is funded by a $25 million gift from his Wing 2 Wing family foundation.

Smith’s pitch for the Mountain State? The best mountaineering, climbing, skiing, and hiking east of the Missouri River and the humble but pioneering spirit of its residents. “In the state of West Virginia from day one, when the mountaineers settled the state, we realized we had to blaze trails instead of follow paths,” says Smith. “So that entrepreneurial spirit has always been alive. And it’s the core of the economy.”

Nothing has accelerated the rise of remote work like the COVID-19 pandemic. With many workplaces allowing employees to work from home—and a high percentage of them planning for that to continue post-pandemic—the idea of trading in the eye-watering rents of Silicon Valley and New York City for more modestly priced digs in cities like Tulsa becomes ever more appealing. As a result, Tulsa Remote saw a 300% increase in the volume of applications and moved 400 people to the city, while handing them that $10,000 check.

And Smith sees that potential for West Virginia also. “Going into COVID, roughly 23% of S&P 500 employees were qualified to work remotely…That number is [now closer to] 35% to 40%,” says Smith. “People want to find a place where they can live, work, and play. They want to be surrounded by a community that is full of kind and diverse people. And they want to have the opportunity to be a part of something new and fresh. And I think that’s why West Virginia is really appealing to a lot of people.”


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