CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia makes a new pitch in an effort to attract more remote workers to the Mountain State.

Many people have been working from home since the begining of the pandemic. So it leaves a big question:

Will this be a permanent thing?

A new program called ‘Ascend West Virginia’ is trying to do just that, and draw more people to the Mountain State.

“We’re going to invite people to take a permanent vacation in the place John Denver dubbed ‘Almost Heaven’ 50 years ago,” said, Chelsea Ruby, Secretary of West Virginia Tourism.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a bill that would modernize the corporate tax structure in the state, with the goal of attracting more remote workers. “Now this trend was alive and well heading into COVID when it was estimated that nearly 400 million people in the United States had permission to move anywhere they wanted while doing their jobs,” said Brad Smith, a Kenova native.

The goal is to leverage one of West Virginia’s most appealing asset – its natural beauty – to stop population loss in the only state that has fewer residents now than it did in 1950. “We have these amazing mountains and these rivers and these trails that once served as walls but they now serve as welcome signs as rural becomes the new urban,” added Smith.

Smith is throwing in incentives to get people to relocate. “If people choose West Virginia as their home, they will receive 12,000 dollars in relocation and retention incentives. They’ll get a free year’s worth of outdoor activities.” he said.

And Governor Justice says with this opportunity, people won’t overlook West Virginia any longer. “Just sit back and wait and watch how the diamond in the rough is going to continue to be exposed to the world.”

The program is now accepting applications for the first 50 openings in Morgantown.