Remote Work Possibilities Draw Traffic to The Shoals

Remote Work Possibilities Draw Traffic to The Shoals

Remote Work Possibilities Draw Traffic to The Shoals
 
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought changes for all of us. For some it took a financial toll, for most a change of lifestyle, but for two organizations, the pandemic brought a new perspective.
 
When the world halted to a stop last March, Mike Wolfe, creator and star of American Pickers, jumped at the opportunity to use these uncertain times to do some soul-searching and re-evaluate lifestyles in the South.
 
Wolfe decided to create a movement to show off the beauty in the simple-life that many in small-town Tennessee and Alabama have come to treasure. Wolfe’s initiative, Nashville’s Big Backyard, spans a 100-mile area along the Natchez Trace Parkway, stretching from Nashville, Tenn. to The Shoals, Ala. Along the way are twelve small Tennessee towns that are loaded with character, good food, and meaningful stories that he hopes will inspire those who may be looking for a different way of life.
 
Wolfe explains that now as the pandemic is allowing more and more people to work in a remote environment, this could be the perfect opportunity for these digital nomads to settle in a small southern town. Nashville’s Big Backyard, primarily a tourism initiative, was designed to draw travelers into these areas and then send them on their way feeling more fulfilled by the beauty of community, family, and the quality of life possible in a small town.
 
The Shoals is traveler’s final destination along the Trace, and combined with the musical heritage and the beauty of the Tennessee River, many businesses are seizing the opportunity to appeal to the visitors from all angles - places to eat, beds to sleep in, and sights to see – and we all know the Shoals has lots to see.
 
If the efforts of Wolfe’s initiative are successful, the Shoals could see an increase in long-term residents as well. “Nashville’s Big Backyard is a powerful solution to today’s economic crisis” Wolfe said.
 
However, Wolfe is not the only one working to appeal to those digital nomads. The Shoals Economic Development Authority, better known as the Shoals EDA, has a trailblazing program of their own that has already had a significant impact on the local economy. Remote Shoals, an initiative to draw remote workers to live in The Shoals, has seen enormous success since its launch in June of 2019.
 
Remote Shoals targets remote workers with a $10,000 cash incentive to help with relocation in exchange for their promise to live in The Shoals for at least one year. What’s the catch you might ask? There isn’t one, unless you consider a lower cost of living, tight-knit community and creative culture negatives.
 
In the pilot year of the program, Remote Shoals recruited ten remote workers out of the roughly 200 applicants to be a part of this program. These ten remote workers brought with them a new annual payroll of almost $1.1 million, not including the wages of other household members. These workers poured into The Shoals economy by buying houses, supporting local businesses and joining our local schools.
 
The timing of this program’s launch was almost too convenient with the Covid-19 pandemic shutting the world down just months after the first round of remote workers made their move to The Shoals.
 
But, if there is one positive thing to come of the recent months, it is the possibility of freedom. Freedom to work from anywhere in the world is a luxury that many could not afford or envision prior to the shutdown. Since the pandemic hit though, numerous companies have transitioned to a remote working environment, many permanently.
 
These newly established remote working possibilities have had a hand in boosting the Remote Shoals program in ways the Shoals EDA could not have imagined when they launched their program. From the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020, there was an 81% increase in applications to the program. The 200 applications from year one jumped to 500 for year two. As a result, Remote Shoals will accept twenty-five applicants for the second class.
 
With such an overwhelming number of applicants, it is obvious that not all who apply can be accepted. However, this fate has not discouraged these applicants from moving to The Shoals anyway. With the conditions of the housing market being in the buyers’ favor, many of these workers have decided to strike while the iron is hot and purchase their dream home in The Shoals, regardless of their status in the Remote Shoals program. Remote Shoals may be the initiative that introduced workers to the idea of moving here, but the quad-city area has enough of its own appeal to draw residents here long-term.
 
The efforts of Nashville’s Big Backyard and Remote Shoals have already had an impact on the local economy, and there is no indication that it will slow down anytime soon. If anything, the realization that life may never look quite the same will continue to open people’s eyes to the beauty of living a simpler life in a town such as The Shoals.

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