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The Northwest Arkansas Council is starting a $1 million Life Works Here pilot program in an attempt to attract skilled workers to relocate to the region.
The council, a nonprofit coalition of businesses, community and academic organizations, is offering a $10,000 grant and an amenity of the recipient’s choice. The incentive is for workers in a STEAM field — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — who are already working remotely.
In addition to the $10,000 grant, a recipient can choose either a bicycle — street or mountain — or an annual membership to one of the region’s cultural icons such as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Scott Family Amazeum or the Walton Arts Center.
There are 10,000 job openings in northwest Arkansas and with an unemployment rate of 2.9%. The council hopes attracting STEAM workers will add to the region’s talent pool.
A select panel chosen by the council will review applicants, who must meet eligibility requirements and move to the area within six months of acceptance. Applicants must have a full-time job, but self-employment qualifies.
The council said the initiative is not a job placement and one grant is allowed per household. If one spouse or partner is accepted, the council said it would assist the other to find employment.