Relocation package

Why States Are Paying Remote Workers to Relocate (Q&A With Hawaii)

When there’s a new worldwide trend, I like seeing how it affects business.

COVID-19 is changing how the world works. And, there are ripple effects of what this means for business.

If Coronavirus = more remote working… how is the change being used in a positive way? Every change is an opportunity.

An interesting idea that’s gaining traction is relocation packages. Cities, states, and countries offering money or other incentives to move there.

One of the first places to try this was Boise, ID. It was a roaring success — Boise is the 8th fastest-growing city in the U.S.

Then, Maine. Recently, Helsinki in Finland. And dozens of other cities, states, and countries across the world are getting in on the action too.

When I step back, it’s easy to see why places are incentivizing relocation: Young, wealthy remote workers have ripple effects for the local economy.

One of my FAVORITE recent examples of a relocation package is Hawaii’s “Movers & Shakas” program (I applied).

What’s different about Hawaii’s program is the volunteering requirement. Getting young, smart, entrepreneurs in your community is part of the equation… but engaging them to make the the community better is key.

I was curious to hear behind-the-scenes of Hawaii’s new program. So I asked a member of the voting committee, Richard Matsui at kWh Analytics, a few questions.

What makes Hawaii a place that entrepreneurs should consider visiting or moving?

As everyone knows, the success or failure of a company pivots heavily on the team you build. And in today’s world, world-class talent are fleeing the usual entrepreneurship hubs in favor of places with high quality of life: Hawaii ranks high on this. It’s no accident that Hawaii residents have the longest expected lifespans of anyone in America, in addition to having the lowest COVID rates in the country. Hawaii’s ideal climate and outdoor activities offer respite from busy cities and contribute to a high quality of life. As someone born and raised in Hawaii, I always dreamed of coming home, so when the pandemic normalized remote work I took the opportunity to come back and run my San Francisco headquartered company from Hawaii.

What are some of your favorite Hawaiian businesses?

My grandfather started his business by selling bags of goldfish out of a wheelbarrow in Chinatown, which is still our family business today, Petland. Zippys is a local favorite restaurant, with a history also spanning generations.

What’s the vision for Oahu or Hawaii long-term? Looking at the Movers & Shakas program, it seems like the island wants to expand more into tech and entrepreneurship which is fascinating to see.

Many leaders in the business and nonprofit community envision a Hawaii with a diversified economy. Cultivating sectors, like technology, or further normalizing remote work can help more residents stay in Hawaii, reduce our dependency on tourism, and bring valuable dollars and resources to our community.

Here’s what I take away from these answers:

  • Hawaii is smartly leveraging their quality of life (beaches! surf! weather!) to attract more successful companies that, now more than ever, are able to relocate.
  • Hawaii currently lacks business diversity. They want to fix that. Moving from a single point of failure (tourism) to a more diverse business ecosystem helps the state become financially healthier.

I’m really interested to see how this works for Hawaii.

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