The nonprofit Northwest Arkansas Council announced Monday (Feb. 22) the first 25 recipients of its Life Works Here incentive program to attract remote workers to move to the region.
They will each receive $10,000 and either a street or mountain bike, or free annual membership to one of Northwest Arkansas’ world-class arts and cultural institutions: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Momentary, Scott Family Amazeum, TheatreSquared, Walton Arts Center and Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion (AMP).
The council launched the pilot program in November. It touts Northwest Arkansas as having one of the best living costs, plentiful outdoor lifestyle perks, nationally ranked arts, culture and cuisine and per capita income that’s 14% higher than the national average.
Life Works Here will invest more than $1 million over six months for the initiative, made possible by philanthropic support from the Walton Family Foundation at the recommendation of brothers Steuart Walton and Tom Walton.
“Professionals all over the country are starting to see the benefits of life in the Heartland, and Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas are at the top of the list,” Steuart Walton said in a statement. “This region welcomes innovators and thought leaders to a community defined by world-class mountain biking, cultural experiences and a true entrepreneurial spirit.”
According to the council, the incentive program attracted more than 26,000 applications from candidates in more than 115 countries and all 50 states. Monday’s news release did not identify the first round of recipients, only that selections had diverse backgrounds ranging from the arts, culinary and technology industries.
A handful of recipients highlighted include:
- An executive chef and James Beard Foundation Impact Fellow from Atlanta
- A digital marketing manager from Denver
- A music producer and creative community curator from Los Angeles
- A gaming producer from Los Angeles
- And a cloud technology manager from San Francisco
“Northwest Arkansas has emerged as one of the most desirables places to live in the country, positioning the region as a top destination in an economy redefined by remote work opportunities,” University of Arkansas economist Mervin Jebaraj said in a statement. “The long-term success of the region will be determined by our collective ability to bring more innovators in the critical sectors of science, technology, engineering, arts and math.”
Beyond moving to Northwest Arkansas, Life Work Here recipients are asked to participate in marketing campaigns to attract other remote workers to the region and have committed to volunteering in the local communities.
“This first wave of new talent to the Northwest Arkansas region generated by the Life Works Here campaign is just a sampling the exceptional individuals we’ve been able to attract to our region with the incentive program,” said Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council. “This program is not only a benefit to the recipients and new talent for our region, but it also contributes to the vibrancy of our existing, growing market and our local economy. We’re overwhelmed by the unbelievable response and interest and look forward to announcing additional recipients as new talent is selected.”
Nate Green, the council’s communications director, said the second group of 25 recipients will likely be announced in early March.