The Register Citizen takes a closer look at Bemidji’s 218 Relocate program, a program to recruit teleworkers to the area…
Earlier this year, they [potential new residents, the Fahrenbruchs] saw a job possibility for his wife with the city of Bemidji. But he didn’t see anything for himself. Then, he read about Bemidji’s 218 Relocate program, which offers $2,500 to help cover moving or telecommuting expenses for people who move to Bemidji from more than 60 miles away and bring a job with them, Minnesota Public Radio news reported.
So he pitched the idea to his boss. He could telecommute for his job — with the Kansas Legislature — from Bemidji, Minnesota.
But they are just one story..
The Fahrenbruchs are one of 22 families who have qualified so far for the relocation program since it began in February. It’s run by the economic development organization Greater Bemidji, with funding from a local foundation and Paul Bunyan Communications.
Greater Bemidji hatched the idea for an incentive to help lure people to town before the pandemic, but assistant director Erin Echternach said they launched it after hearing stories of people teleworking from cabins in the area last year after COVID-19 lockdowns went into effect.
Better broadband is a seller…
A key part of Bemidji’s sales pitch is its high-speed internet. Paul Bunyan has built one of the largest rural, all-fiber broadband networks in the country in north-central Minnesota.
“For them to move up to their cabin, and then connect with us and say, ‘I get better internet service at my little cabin in Bemidji than I do down in Maple Grove, Minnnesota,’ that was pretty special,” said Echternach. “And that’s when 218 Relocate was born.”
218 Relocate is one of several resident recruitment programs that have sprouted up around the state in recent years, with names like the “Get Rural” initiative in western Minnesota, “The Good Life” campaign in the north-central part of the state, and “Live Like a Local,” in Grand Rapids.