He added, “We don’t need any individuals to move here. We need the people working in the right types of industries.”
In Georgia, the city of Savannah is aiming specifically for tech professionals. Last June, the Savannah Economic Development Authority announced that it would award $2,000 to selected tech workers who committed to living in the city, Georgia’s third-largest, for at least two years. Applicants had to have at least three years of work experience, and move from a destination at least 60 miles from City Hall. “We don’t want to steal from our neighbors,” said Jen Bonnett, who oversees the program.
City officials consider the Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive a chance to import residents who might one day build Savannah into a tech hub. “When Covid hit, we thought this was a unique opportunity to get the right people with skills here, so when the world opens up again, we will have more skilled labor in our community,” Ms. Bonnett said. “If the next tech company wants to move here and hire 30 people, we want to have people already here who can do the job.”
Those people are typically young and middle-tier economically — an age group the city felt it was missing. “It’s $2,000, which is not enough for recent graduates, but it’s also not for someone who wants to move a five-bedroom house from California to Savannah,” she said.
Thus far, she said, 26 recipients and their families have moved to Savannah under the program, including Bridget Overson, 41, who was living in Concord, N.H., and works in user engagement for Updater, a company that streamlines the moving process.
As the pandemic stretched on, Ms. Overson realized she was hungry for more space and warmer weather. “I had been to Savannah a few times on family vacations, and it’s a beautiful city,” she said. “The weather is great and the property values are amazing. It’s such an appealing environment: the parks, the trees, the nature, the history, the culture.”