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Natchez’s $6,000 incentive to move here drawing national attention

NATCHEZ — The “Shift South” incentive program adopted by the City of Natchez in October has received national news coverage in the past couple of days.

The incentive — which offers remote workers up to $6,000 to relocate to Natchez — has been broadcast by Fox News, MSN and Forbes.

“It has had a big impact,” Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said of the recent media coverage, adding Natchez Inc.’s staff has spent two days combing through emails and answering calls to dozens of parties interested in the incentive.

Russ said he expects half will qualify for the program, which requires the person to purchase a home with a minimum $150,000 value in city limits and make Natchez their primary residence while working outside of the area from home.

In return, the program offers up to $2,500.00 reimbursement for relocation expenses and a $300 a month stipend for one year.

Natchez, Inc. estimates that the city will see a return of its investment within a 12 to 18-month timeframe through property tax and sales tax revenues.

Russ said he expects half of those inquiring about the incentive will qualify, which would leave the program — which is capped at 30 participants — nearly three-quarters of the way full, Russ said.

“We will explore all of those inquiries fully and vet them out,” Russ said. “It has been a wonderful and busy couple of days fielding calls and emails regarding the program. It’s good to see that there is a significant number of people interested.”

Russ said after a “soft rollout” of the program to a couple of markets, one person has already been awarded the incentive and approximately eight more applicants are deemed eligible.

Russ said he does not expect the city to expand the program this year to allow more than 30 people to receive the incentive.

“We have a limit on it and that is what the city has budgeted for,” he said. “This being the first year of the incentive, we are looking at it to make sure there is a solid return (of investment) for the city. We will see if those numbers pay off for the city and taxpayers. … Year two, we might expand it to 50 people if there is a good return.”

Russ said he is grateful to the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen for their support of the Shift South program and to Visit Natchez for their successful marketing of it.

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