Tulsa’s remote work experiment a $62 million success

Bee Regulation has known as many corners of america residence. Born in Rochester, and raised and educated in North Carolina, she’s additionally lived in Atlanta, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles. So when the 29-year-old entrepreneur was deciding the place to launch her video-based social community for anime and geek fandom, QuirkChat, she had a lot of choices to think about.

“After the pandemic I knew I wasn’t going to return to California, so I used to be in limbo searching for that subsequent place to name a residence base,” she says.

Final yr, whereas researching the Tulsa Bloodbath, Regulation got here throughout an advert for a program known as Tulsa Remote, which enticed remote employees and entrepreneurs to the mid-sized Oklahoman metropolis with a $10,000 relocation stipend. In change, profitable candidates are required to name town residence for at the very least 12 months. “It was intriguing to see how Black entrepreneurs have been constructing again up Tulsa, as a Black entrepreneur and founder myself,” says Regulation, who was invited to be one among 842 members of Tulsa Remote’s 2021 cohort.

Bee Regulation [Photo: courtesy of QuirkChat]

Past the relocation stipend, this system additionally offers profitable candidates with one yr of free co-working area, workshops, networking occasions, and a vary of different sources.  “With Tulsa Remote you get a built-in group, as an alternative of coming right here by myself, which was sort of intimidating,” says Regulation.


Since its founding in 2018, Tulsa Remote has introduced practically 1,300 remote employees to city, and a new research means that the funding is paying off. In accordance with a report printed by the Financial Innovation Group (EIG), for each greenback spent on the relocation incentive, $13.77 was generated in native labor earnings. The research additionally discovered that for each two family members delivered to Tulsa by way of this system, one new native job was created. All instructed, Tulsa Remote is estimated to have contributed $62 million in new labor earnings to the native economic system in 2021.

“Remote employees are typically nicely paid; they’re in white collar digital {and professional} occupations, usually talking, and people have a tendency to return with fairly excessive salaries,” explains Kenan Fikri, EIG’s analysis director. In accordance with the research, the common annual earnings of program members is sort of $105,000. “Plenty of that cash stays within the native economic system.”

The Proper Program For the Proper Metropolis

Tulsa just isn’t the one metropolis that provides remote employees money in change for taking over residence, however researchers warn not each metropolis stands to take pleasure in the identical financial advantages in return.

“There does appear to be a sweet-spot nature, not simply to the dimensions of the Tulsa metro, however different traits when it comes to their home migration sample, [and] when it comes to their lagging in a sure section of their workforce,” says EIG ‘s president and CEO, John Lettieri. “This was a program that was right-sized and designed to fill a lot of these gaps, after which scaled in such a means as to have a important influence on an economic system of the dimensions of the Tulsa metro.”

Lettieri explains that previous to Tulsa Remote, town had a destructive web migration of about 1,200 per yr, and nearly all of individuals leaving have been college-educated. It’s no coincidence that this system has sought to draw roughly the identical variety of new residents. As a end result, Lettieri says Tulsa hasn’t suffered from lots of the destructive penalties related to a rush of recent, well-paid residents, corresponding to a spike in housing costs and rising value of residing.

Digital Nomads Are In search of a Place to Name Dwelling

A part of the rationale why this system has confirmed so profitable is that remote employees in massive cities typically wrestle to search out a sense of group. The researchers clarify that a lot of the worth of this system comes from ongoing contributions to the native economic system, after the one-year requirement has expired. Whereas the financial incentive helps put Tulsa on the map for remote employees, they consider this system has been profitable in protecting them on the town by offering a stage of assist they wouldn’t take pleasure in elsewhere.


“We shouldn’t underestimate how vital the pure signaling alone is; that’s actually a massive a part of it,” says Lettieri. “Should you take the relative anonymity of residing in a metropolis like New York or San Francisco, and distinction that with the Tulsa Remote experiment—of a place rolling out the crimson carpet for you and saying in financial, and extra importantly, non financial methods, how a lot they worth you—individuals be ok with that,” provides Fikri.

Whereas financial incentives assist deliver individuals to city, Lettieri and Fikri consider that different native facilities and assist buildings in the end encourage them to remain, permitting this system to generate lasting worth.

“I don’t suppose persons are going to make a everlasting life determination, and even a medium time period one, primarily based on a comparatively small monetary incentive,” says Lettieri. “This is a vital a part of the native financial growth technique, and the truth that it was designed and backed by a key native establishment, in partnership with different native stakeholders, is a massive a part of the battle.”

Not A One-Dimension-Matches All Answer

Lettieri and Fikri emphasize that the improper takeaway from the experiment is that any metropolis can take pleasure in the identical financial advantages by providing money incentives to remote employees. They consider that Tulsa Remote’s choice course of, which deliberately seeks out expertise that’s wanted however in any other case missing within the metropolis, is what in the end drives its success.

“Every group is exclusive, and has to have a distinctive set of information that they’re monitoring and dealing by way of frequently,” says Ben Stewart, the senior program officer on the George Kaiser Household Basis, which designed and funded the Tulsa Remote program. “This isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer.”

For the reason that program’s launch, and particularly because the begin of the pandemic, Stewart says he’s fielded calls from each nook of the nation, and past, with inquiries associated to replicating this system elsewhere. “Not a week goes by with out listening to from one metropolis that’s considering of this, everybody from Alaska to Hawaii to Georgia to New York State,” he says.

Stewart says he encourages every metropolis to think about their distinctive financial and labor drive wants, what they’ll supply remote employees in change for filling these gaps, and what applications, initiatives, or initiatives would encourage them to remain past the preliminary time period. He provides Tulsa Remote’s success is partially owed to the attraction of town itself, which he describes as a “hidden gem,” in addition to different redevelopment efforts which have been undertaken in recent times.

“As we thought of why Tulsa has been profitable, I believe it’s a lot of the place-making attributes that the muse and town have been focussed on over the past decade or so,” he says. “This main public-private partnership to develop town’s waterfront, the truth that there’s a burgeoning artwork scene, I believe Tulsa was positioned nicely, not simply due to its measurement, however due to the property and facilities which are right here that individuals simply didn’t find out about beforehand.”

Remote For America

In creating Tulsa Remote, Stewart says he was impressed by Train for America, a non-profit group that deploys graduates from the nation’s prime universities to low earnings communities to show for 2 years.

“We noticed increasingly of these members keep past their two years of service,” he says. “It impressed us to think about different methods to deliver individuals into the equation, and remote work was an attention-grabbing venue.”

This system, explains Stewart, furthers the George Kaiser Household Basis’s mandate of reversing the cycle of generational poverty in the area people.


When Tulsa Remote first launched within the fall of 2018, Stewart says organizers have been anticipating 15 to twenty candidates. As a substitute they acquired greater than 10,000 within the first 90 days. In 2020, as extra Americas got the chance to work remotely within the wake of the pandemic, that quantity jumped to 50,000.

“We’re most happy with the truth that we’ve retained greater than 90%,” says Stewart. “Over 90% keep past the yr.”

Since shifting to Tulsa this previous June, Regulation has herself employed 4 locals, and has no intention of leaving as soon as her time period is up in the summertime of 2022. “We’re going to remain right here for positive,” she says. “Tulsa has been actually nice, and we do plan to purchase a home subsequent yr.”