Largest Remote Work Program in US

largest remote work program in us

Tulsa Remote, the largest remote work incentive program in the U.S., announced today that it has recruited and relocated more than 2,000 remote workers to the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Tulsa Remote was launched in 2018 by the George Kaiser Family Foundation with the goal of attracting and retaining highly skilled young professionals away from major coastal cities and business hubs like New York and San Francisco. The previous trend, of workers from around the country relocating to the coasts, was endangering the heartland's ability to develop technology, innovation, and entrepreneurial sectors – a brain drain that was ruinous for economic development

"The economic and social impact of the Tulsa Remote program is remarkable," says Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. "Tulsa Remote is creating opportunities not only for the city of Tulsa but is also setting an example for many other heartland cities. Tulsa Remote provides a playbook for how to engage participants and create value for the community in the heartland." 

The Tulsa Remote program offers a $10,000 stipend to participants willing to relocate for at least one year, access to a free co-working space at 36 Degrees North –Tulsa's basecamp for entrepreneurs, startups, and innovators–housing assistance, and an engaged community with built-in programming, events, and meetups to help new Tulsans thrive in their new hometown.

When it launched, Tulsa Remote saw the program as an experiment that might stay at modest scale – but it received 10,000 applicants in the first year and more than double that in 2021 which far exceeded expectations. A recently conducted third-party impact report from The Economic Impact Group found that the program added $62 million in new local earnings in 2021 alone — $51.3 million directly attributable to relocated remote workers and $10.7 million from the employment boost generated in the local economy.

"We have had the distinct pleasure of watching Tulsa's recent growth and each and every Tulsa Remote member brings something new to our already vibrant community," says Justin Harlan, Tulsa Remote's Managing Director. "This is an incredible milestone for our program and for Tulsa, and we are grateful for the 2,000 remote workers who took a chance on our program and a chance on Tulsa. We can't wait to see how they continue to contribute, grow and thrive here."

Today the program has over 2,000 members–with the largest referral markets being Dallas, Los Angeles, Austin, and New York–and encompasses sectors including tech, finance, and communications. According to a recent Brookings report, the program has built a diverse community with people from all backgrounds who are likely to stay in Tulsa long-term, more likely to be actively engaged in the local community, and are experiencing higher real income growth. As a matter of fact, Tulsa Remoters showed an increase in their real income that was $26.5k/year larger than that of accepted applicants that have yet to move, even though these groups had similar 2018 income.

The city's growth extends beyond the record-breaking influx of workers. Tulsa is getting back to its roots with attractions like the new Bob Dylan Center and the Woodie Guthrie Center. In a nod to a troubling racial history, the city has been rebuilding the iconic Black Wall Street by launching programs designed to support Black and minority founders and entrepreneurs. TechStars, an international accelerator program, launched its first ever cohort specifically for Black and brown founders in partnership with Build in Tulsa, an initiative also funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The foundation also launched an incubator, Tulsa Innovation Labs, which garnered national attention after being granted $38.2 million from the federal Build Back Better grant.

Tulsa Remote is a unique recruitment initiative aimed at attracting talented individuals to Tulsa. The program brings remote workers and digital nomads to the community by providing $10,000 grants and numerous community-building opportunities. Each grant is distributed over the course of a year to eligible remote workers or entrepreneurs living outside of Oklahoma. Funding is currently provided by George Kaiser Family Foundation. The City of Tulsa and other community organizations lend their support to ensure program participants are fully immersed and engaged in the community.