Good Stories to Tell: Choose Topeka, Kansas
Announced for the first time on 2019, “Choose Topeka” is a relocation initiative that offer remote work option and encourage talent to move to Topeka and Shawnee County, Kansas.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Topeka is only one of a few cities in the entire country to offer this type of incentive to relocate remote workers. With unemployment at a historically low rate, businesses across the country are struggling to attract and retain talented professionals.
Choose Topeka program arose from a partnership between GO Topeka and local Topeka businesses. Over the past year, organizers have been working to develop the program and marketing materials to reach a wide audience. GO Topeka focuses on creating economic opportunities and growing the local business climate. The Joint Economic Development Organization has an agreement for services with GO Topeka. Both organizations are working together on the Choose Topeka incentive program.
GO Topeka announced itself the approval of the Choose Topeka Relocation Initiative, which would allow candidates working remotely to receive an incentive up to $10,000 to move to Topeka/Shawnee County. The official approval for this initiative came at the Joint Economic Development Organization’s (JEDO) September 9, 2020 meeting.
The Choose Topeka incentive program is to help draw employees to work at local businesses. Therefore, the eligibility requirements center on meeting the needs of local employers and full-time positions:
- Participants must be eligible to work in the US
- Program requires participants to move to Topeka for a full-time position
- Employers must participate in the program for participants to receive matching funds
- Participants must purchase or rent a home in Shawnee County within a year of their hire and move to the area
Based upon verified salary, potential candidates for this initiative may receive up to $10,000 for a home purchase or rehab; and up to $5,000 toward a minimum one-year lease, both for primary residence only. Funding comes from current allocations for the traditional relocation program approved in December 2019 and is an added remote worker option.
The Choose Topeka incentives are based on performance. Employees must move to the community and reside for at least one full year before becoming eligible. Only primary residences are eligible for the incentives. The incentives may be used for all expenses related to moving.
The goal of Choose Topeka is to draw up to 60 new residents and their families to the city. Employers will gain new workers with requisite skills. Also, several industries will receive economic benefits as the new residents move in and purchase locally.
GO Topeka estimates the total local economic impact of the Choose Topeka incentives to be over $2.14 million (by the 1st year) and up to $11.38 million (by the 5th year).
On February 2021, GO Topeka announced that the popular Choose Topeka Relocation Incentive has been extended another year, allotting $300,000 to attract specialized talent to move to the Capital City. Recipients of these incentives are eligible to receive a maximum of $15,000 to be used in their moving and housing expenses.
The 2nd batch of Choose Topeka incentive allows employers to match a relocation incentive for recruited candidates to Topeka, with a combined total up to $15,000 when buying a home, and $10,000 for renters signing a one-year lease. Employees who work remotely for companies based outside Topeka can receive up to $10,000 if they purchase a home, and up to $5,000 toward a one-year lease, tiered based upon their annual salary.
Lessons Learned, Key Takeaways:
- Since the 1st batch of Choose Topeka initiative was announced, it has gained quite a bit of traction. The Greater Topeka Partnership, an economic development agency, has received hundreds of requests on the first week of the announcement.
- ChooseTopeka.com has been launched as the main hub as well as to provide quick answers about the program and to allow interested candidates to apply.
- According the Greater Topeka Partnership (GTP), the 1st bacth of Choose Topeka has received thousands of requests from across North America, as well as international interest from potential candidates in Europe, Asia and South America.
- Choose Topeka program recruited 40 workers in its first year, and created a $3.2 million regional economic impact.
- Choose Topeka Relocation Initiative to Offer Remote Work Option of Up to $10K to Move to The Capital (Topeka Partnership, 09.09.2019)
- Topeka Approves $300K in New Incentives to Attract Talent in 2021, Offering up to $15K to Workers that Relocate to the Capital City (16.02.2021)