Thirteen families have already moved to Wayne County through the Make My Move program.

Another two have accepted the county’s relocation incentive offers and a third is considering an offer, despite the fact the Make My Move contract ended Jan. 31. Wayne County’s commissioners would like to see Make My Move continue at least for another year and are willing to commit $130,973 from the consolidated EDIT fund to make it happen. The city of Richmond did not budget this year to pay the contract with Make My Move.

Commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of spending $80,973 to extend the contract through Jan. 31, 2025, and making another $50,000 available for incentives. Each out-of-state remote worker who moves here receives two $2,500 payments, one initially and another after staying here a year. The county originally funded the $100,000 for mover incentives with a 20-mover goal.

The additional year would increase that goal from 20 movers to 30, requiring the additional incentive fund, but Valerie Shaffer, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County, said the program has a good rhythm now and is approving more movers more rapidly. That’s partly due to changing the income requirement for prospective movers, she said. The county now requires the remote worker make $55,000 to be eligible, rather than using a graduated household income based on the number of household members.

Shaffer said the 13 movers so far average 1.9 people in their households with an average household income of $104,785.

Commissioner Brad Dwenger said he originally opposed the program, but sees the benefit of having added 13 — and possibly 16 — households to the county. Make My Move has continued operating in good faith after the contract’s expiration, attracting three movers since the expiration, plus the other three possibilities.

“If we get 30 to Wayne County instead of going the opposite direction, I think that’s a win-win for us,” said Dwenger, who moved to approve the financial commitment.

Commissioner Mary Anne Butters seconded Dwenger’s motion and said, “I think it’s a good business decision, because the ROI on this is short just in the taxes that will come back to us from these individual movers.”

Commissioner Jeff Plasterer said he’d like the county “see this through.” He again spoke about developing a program that incentivizes movers to the county in needed skilled professions, such as nursing and law enforcement. Make My Move has provided good experience learning how to operate an incentive program, Plasterer said.

Commissioners will now recommend that Wayne County Council approve the Make My Move funding.

Letter of support

Commissioners signed a letter of support for Cambridge City’s grant application to the U.S. Economic Development Administration for its water-system improvements.

The town is seeking $2.5 million of the approximately $6 million construction cost. A new water tower would be located on one acre at the Gateway Industrial Park.

“I think this is an important letter of support for our application because it not only is a commitment for the one acre for the town to build the water tower, but it’s also stating your further commitment to economic development and strategies to build the remaining acres of the park,” Shaffer said.

The EDC is working with park businesses to make investment and job commitments across the next nine years to also enhance the application, which is due April 1.

After recent sewer treatment plant expansion, the water project continues development of adequate infrastructure for park expansion.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 3 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.