Head to "Almost Heaven" for your remote work destination, and get paid to do it!

West Virginia University, the West Virginia Department of Tourism, and Ascend West Virginia have teamed up with other state officials and organizations to put together a unique and intriguing incentive package for remote workers. Designed to recruit outdoor enthusiast professionals to the Mountain State, the program is the brainchild of Brad Smith, West Virginia native and former CEO of Intuit (Turbo Tax and QuickBooks), and his wife, Alys, an attorney and charitable organization founder.

The Smith’s company, Ascend West Virginia, strives to bridge the gap between work and play as they bring together remote workers and the world-class outdoor recreation and landscapes of West Virginia. West Virginia is home to a wide variety of outdoor activities and natural attractions, including America’s newest national park and West Virginia’s first New River Gorge National Park.

Ascend West Virginia allows adventurers to enjoy outdoor recreation, wide-open spaces, and a low cost of living while staying fully connected to their jobs (wherever those jobs may be). It offers one of the country’s best remote worker incentive packages: $12,000 and a year’s worth of free outdoor recreation (among much more).

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice said in a press release, "We are rolling out the red carpet and inviting remote workers from across the country to make Almost Heaven, West Virginia their home. We’re leading the nation’s vaccine rollout, welcoming investment from major companies like Virgin Hyperloop, and now have a program in place that offers remote workers the freedom to live and work in paradise."

The Ascend West Virginia Remote Work Program was made possible by a $25 million gift to West Virginia University’s Brad and Alys Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative (Smith OEDC) from the Smiths themselves.

Smith was born and raised in Kenova, West Virginia. He left the state to pursue other interests but never lost his love of the area. He now wants to give back to the state that gave him that foundation, innovative spirit, and perseverance in an effort to help others achieve success while enjoying an experience-driven lifestyle. By “experience,” we mean all the hiking, biking, kayaking, and exploring that’s available all over the state of West Virginia.

Brad Smith said in a press release, “It has always been my dream to give back to the state that forever has my heart. Together, Alys and I set forth a vision to create a program that would allow West Virginia to capitalize on national workforce trends by leveraging the state’s incredible outdoor recreation assets. West Virginians have been ascending mountains for generations. Now, we’re inviting remote workers from across the country to join us in our ascent to rise to new heights, together. They’ll quickly discover there’s nothing like the inspiration of the mountains to fuel their pursuits.”

According to a Gartner survey, more than 80% of company executives say they will allow employees to work from home after the pandemic. With remote work on the rise and here to stay, programs similar to this have popped up around the world. West Virginia, however, is the only state to shine the spotlight on its natural assets to recruit those remote workers.

Ascend West Virginia Incentives and Benefits

  • Cash: $12,000 in cash. This can be used to help with moving and living expenses or to explore new hobbies and outdoor recreation in West Virginia.
  • Free Outdoor Recreation: One year of free outdoor recreation to explore all that WV has to offer, including 2,032 miles of whitewater, 4,000 rock climbing routes, 1.5 million acres of public land, and 1,500 miles of trails. Valued at more than $2,500, this amenity is designed to encourage a work and lifestyle balance of hiking, ziplining, skiing, rock climbing, golfing, and much more.
  • Free Co-Working Space: Remote workers will have modern amenities to stay connected as well as access to more than $1,200 in free outdoor gear rentals to use with family and friends.
  • Professional Advancement: You’ll have the ability to earn remote work certifications through West Virginia University and have access to John Chambers College of Business and Economics’ entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Networking: Be a guest at exclusive events where you can connect with state business leaders and participate in guided excursions to experience West Virginia’s vibrant outdoor recreation opportunities.

The full Ascend West Virginia relocation package is valued at more than $20,000. Check out the AscendWV website for more details.

According to Chelsea Ruby, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Tourism, “With remote work becoming a permanent option for more and more professionals, we’re excited to introduce them to the blend of adventure and serenity that makes life in West Virginia a permanent vacation.”

Coopers Rock State Forest, Courtesy of Ascend West Virginia

Whether you’re seeking adventure, inspiration, or a little bit of both, you can probably find it among West Virginia’s mountains, forests, lakes, and rugged trails. Applications are now open for Ascend Morgantown. Known as Mountaineer Country, eastern West Virginia's Morgantown is home to Coopers Rock State Forest, Cheat Lake, the Monongahela River, and West Virginia University. More cities, such as Lewisburg and Shepherdstown, will become available in the future.

Are you ready to pack it all up and move to the Mountain State? Tell us all about it in the comments.