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After successful start, Vermont seeking more new residents

December 26, 2019 GMT

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont is revamping a program that encourages people to move to the state by offering to reimburse up to $7,500 in expenses if they come to Vermont and get a job that qualifies for the program.

The New Worker Relocation Grant Program will replace an expiring program that reimbursed people up to $10,000 if they moved to Vermont and worked remotely for an out-of-state company.

Under the new program, which will begin taking applications Jan. 1, new residents will be eligible if they take jobs with companies in fields identified by the Vermont Department of Labor in its long-term occupational projections.

The 2019 Vermont Legislature appropriated $1.2 million for the new program.

“With our historically low unemployment rate, there are many business sectors in Vermont looking for qualified candidates to fill openings,” Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle said in a statement. “Businesses in the state will now have another incentive they can offer when trying to recruit people to work here.”

As of Dec 20, this year’s program had approved 135 applications, bringing a total of 359 people, including family members, to 60 Vermont towns. The average age of the applicant was 39.

Vermont is one of a number of states that are facing a demographic challenge caused by an aging workforce that isn’t being replaced by enough new residents moving to the state. A number of states are trying similar programs to attract new residents.

In Maine, the non-profit organization Live and Work in Maine, which markets the state and its jobs to prospective residents, has been hosting “Boomerang Back to Maine” events over the holidays. The group also set up shop at the Portland International Jetport to encourage visitors to consider a career in Maine.

As part of Vermont’s new program, eligible applicants must relocate to Vermont and become full-time residents and full-time employees of a Vermont business on or after Jan. 1, 2020.

Some of the expenses eligible for reimbursement include closing costs for a primary residence, lease deposits, first month’s rent, hiring a moving company, renting moving equipment, shipping and the cost of moving supplies.

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.