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SEDA establishes Technology Workforce Incentive

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The Savannah Economic Development Authority has established a new Savannah Technology Workforce Incentive. The program reimburses individual moving expenses up to $2,000 for qualified technology workers currently located outside of Savannah.

The offering is part of a SEDA initiative to continue boosting the region’s technology industry – which includes Fortune 500 companies, international employers and a host of headquarter locations that are innovating in areas including health care, aerospace and advanced manufacturing.

“The Savannah region is a great place to choose to live and we think we can tap into talent that is able to work from anywhere,” said SEDA Vice President of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Jen Bonnett. “Our beautiful, historic downtown, plus access to wonderful beaches and our reasonable real estate market makes us quite an attractive place to live and work.”

According to SEDA President and CEO Trip Tollison, the organization will allocate funds for the incentive, opening it up for 50 people to apply by the end of 2020. The $2,000 reimbursement would cover expenses such as moving service charges, vehicle rental, utility deposits and gasoline.

“This incentive is a great way for technology workers that can work remotely to think about relocating to Savannah as a permanent location. We know once these technology workers arrive, Savannah – and its diverse offerings and high quality of life – will sell itself,” said Tollison.

Applicants must have at least three years of verifiable experience, must relocate to Chatham County with a minimum one-year lease or purchase property and must have resided in the county for 30 days before applying. Applicants must also provide receipts from their move, have a Georgia driver’s license and a Chatham County address.

Kevin Lawver, the chief technology officer for Planted Inc., has called Savannah home for 10 years and says, “Living in Savannah gives my family an opportunity to be a part of the community in a way we weren’t able to when we lived in Washington, D.C. We’re a part of civic life here and are helping to build the tech community and entrepreneurs with TechSAV – a group of innovators, designers and technologists who are passionate about building better products and a better community.”

“We choose to live here, when we could live anywhere, because of the quality of life, and the qualities of our neighbors,” Lawver added.

Gwendolyn Dipert, a product manager for Zift Solutions, based out of Raleigh, N.C., described her move to Savannah by noting: “When I came here two years ago, I was grateful and a bit surprised to find a lively tech community. Everyone cares deeply about their work, but they know how to have fun, too. We’re laid back around here – with an enthusiasm for sharing knowledge and zero interest in any pretense. The humble but hardworking attitudes are what I love the most.”

Savannah, named SmartAsset’s No. 1 City for Creatives in 2019, boasts the lowest cost of living among cities including Nashville, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Minneapolis. Plus, the creative talent of students at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) are infusing digital know-how and innovation to generate business solutions with companies such as Uber, NASA, Google, Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and more. Georgia Southern University Computer Science students are also learning advanced coding and are recent winners of the Center for Disease Control’s Games for Health competition. Overall, 65,000-plus students are pursuing higher education at 18 local colleges and universities.

Savannah’s digital innovation extends to health care, as well, as more than 200 health care technology companies, including Savannah’s OXOS Medical C, Candor and Corstrata, are located in Georgia.

The Savannah Economic Development Authority also offers several other corporate incentives in addition to state incentives. The Facility Rental Assistance Grant is a cash grant of up to $12,000 toward office rental for technology firms that create a minimum of 10 new positions. Further, the High Wage Job Creation Grant is a cash grant of up to $20,000 for every five high-technology jobs created.