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Changes: Work ahead to attract people to West Virginia

Efforts to attract residents to West Virginia by encouraging full-time remote workers or those looking to fill high-demand jobs to move here have been well advertised. It appears as though a smaller version of the statewide effort is yielding results.

More than 60 people from 18 different states have applied to relocate to Charleston, as part of the Charleston Roots program launched last month.

“The response that we’ve seen from folks across the nation that want to move to our Capital City has been overwhelming,” Charleston Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin said. “These folks represent highly skilled individuals that are looking to plant roots and give back to our community.”

With the Charleston Roots program, those who make the move will get $5,000 toward initial expenses, in addition to mentorship, and networking and membership opportunities. Making the program even more appealing, West Virginia residents who recruit family or friends to move to the city could also receive $1,000.

If a relatively small program like Charleston Roots has already received 60 applicants, imagine what Ascend West Virginia could do for the whole state, with its $12,000 carrot and free access to our amazing outdoor activities. But there’s a catch, of course.

We’ve got to convince these people — and the young people who were born and raised here — to stay. That requires long-term efforts that are more challenging than dangling some money and free park passes. Lawmakers and development officials have their work cut out for them if they are going to make the kinds of changes that will make these initial efforts worthwhile.

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