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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Movin’ On Up

Region leverages incentives, rising income to coax relocation

Evansville area officials are using an incentive program to reverse stagnant population trends.

Several cities are participating in MakeMyMove, which connects remote workers to communities. It is paying dividends for the Evansville region, which was Indiana’s top-performing location in 2023 for offer, acceptance, and move rates.

Fifteen households (including 31 individuals) moved to Southwest Indiana from all corners of the U.S. and included professionals in technology, finance, health care, and other fields.

Funding for the program’s first year came from $50,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act, a match from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and $100,000 from the Lilly Endowment Inc.

The goal for 2024 is 25 new households, says Abby Elpers, marketing director with the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.

Many families choosing this region have no previous ties to the area, but Scott and Emily Rettig viewed MakeMyMove as an opportunity to head home.

Scott, an F.J. Reitz High School graduate, and Emily, who went to William Henry Harrison High School, relocated from northern Illinois to be closer to their families. With their son Benjamin out of college and their daughter Julianna in college, it was a good time, Scott says.

The impetus came from a job offer Scott received from Halloran Consulting Group Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, allowing him to work remotely. He then learned about MakeMyMove online.

Families relocating receive a $5,000 stipend after moving, as well as a welcome box with gifts. The Evansville area offers items such as philharmonic tickets and museum memberships.

“It worked out great,” Scott says.

Another positive sign for local population growth is data indicating an upward trend in high-income households, defined as an annual income of more than $200,000.

According to SmartAsset, the Evansville area showed the third- largest percentage increase in such households from 2021 to 2022. The research of 345 U.S. cities showed Evansville trailed only Spokane Valley, Washington, and Allentown, Pennsylvania, with 816 high-income households added in 2022, up 150 percent.


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