TULSA, OK (CBS) — Tulsa, a city of 400,000, has plenty of hip coffee shops, bustling bars, and is home to a thriving arts district. It just doesn’t get much credit for being cool. That’s why last year a group in Tulsa created an ambitious program to spread the word to the growing population of workers around the country who are able to work remotely: Take your laptop to Tulsa, and they’ll pay you $10,000 to move there.
“I think that going after remote workers allows us to identify really talented individuals who have the flexibility to work from wherever and show them what Tulsa has to offer them,” said Aaron Bolzle, director of Tulsa Remote, a new initiative backed by the Tulsa-based non-profit George Kaiser Family Foundation. Its goal is to attract some new blood to Tulsa, with the hope that those who come might stick around.
In addition to the ten grand paid out of the course of a year, the program offers free communal office space and networking opportunities with other new arrivals.
Javier Ruiz, a writer for a language learning website who had been living in New York, was ready for a change of pace when he applied to the program. “It feels like it’s time to calm down, to not be in the hustle-and-bustle,” he said. “You get older and you think about what do you want to invest in for your future.”
In Tulsa, Ruiz can easily afford a house. He’s one of 100 remote workers who were accepted into the program’s first year. There were more than 10,000 applicants who came from a wide array of industries. “Obviously, there’s a large focus on technology,” said Bolzle. “But health care was a huge area. We had a couple patent attorneys who applied who have the ability to work from wherever. We have a Harlem Globetrotter!”
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