GO Topeka, an economic development organization that represents the Topeka, KS region, has established a new Choose Topeka Relocation Initiative. Employees who work remotely for companies based outside Shawnee County can receive up to $10,000 if they purchase a home, and up to $5,000 toward a one-year lease, if they relocate to Topeka or Shawnee County.
Topeka, with a median house price of $132,500, was recently named one of the hottest housing markets in the nation by Realtor.com. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Topeka is $769. The Topeka area, located in the Greater Kansas City region an hour from Kansas City International Airport, is home to 178,915 people.
“Topeka is only one of a few cities in the entire country to offer this type of incentive to relocate remote workers,” said Dan Foltz, GO Topeka Board chair. “Communities, such as ours, that invest in talent ultimately reap the benefits of a robust and specialized workforce as well as a stronger, more intentional community.”
The Topeka community is home to the “NOTO Arts District,” a newly revitalized downtown district and Evergy Plaza, a $9.5 million revitalization project inclusive of gardens, performance spaces, a splash park and an ice rink. Topeka is also home to breweries, inventive eateries, live music venues, luxury hotels and top-quality museums like the Evel Knieval Museum, The Equality House and the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site.
“To those remote workers looking at this program with interest, let me be the first to say we’re happy to welcome you to our vibrant, growing community and we’re excited to provide you with the resources to help you start your best life here in Topeka,” said Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla.
The state capital of Kansas, Topeka is home to company headquarters including Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Advisors Excel, Security Benefit, Capitol Federal and Evergy. In 2019, the city was selected by Plug and Play, a venture capital fund and corporate innovation platform, to be a startup accelerator location focused on animal health science and agricultural technology. Topeka will host about 20 startup companies per year as each one goes through the three-month startup accelerator program.
“As Topeka looks to develop its innovation space, this incentive will help us be able to target the best and brightest, especially within the fields of animal health and ag tech,” said Katrin Bridges, senior vice president of innovation, GO Topeka.
Topeka is located less than 40 minutes from suburban Kansas City’s shops and restaurant districts, less than one hour to downtown Kansas City, including the KC Crossroads District, the River Market and the Country Club Plaza.
“The pandemic has reshaped the way we perform professionally, with remote work becoming the new normal for many,” said Barbara Stapleton, vice president of business retention and talent initiatives, GO Topeka. “Within the last few months, Choose Topeka has seen a sharp uptick of remote candidates expressing an interest in choosing Topeka as their next home. It was imperative that a remote option for the relocation initiative come into play.”
Funding for the remote worker program comes from current allocations for the traditional relocation program approved in December 2019, which required that candidates accept a job with a Topeka-based company. Since the initial Choose Topeka initiative was announced in late 2019, it has gained extensive traction. The Greater Topeka Partnership has received thousands of requests from across North America as well as international interest from potential candidates in Europe, Asia and South America.
Guidance within the remote option includes documentation verifying proof of prior residency, rental or agreement/home purchase and proof of salary/benefits package, in addition to including guidance for remote workers with a limit of one relocation incentive per household, a minimum three-month waiting period for the incentive, and the employer providing remote employment must be located outside of Shawnee County.
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