An Arkansas county doesn't want families to move. It's offering them up to $50,000 to buy a new home.

An Arkansas county doesn't want families to move. It's offering them up to $50,000 to buy a new home.
  • Mississippi County offers up to $50,000 for new home builds or renovations to attract residents.

  • The Work Here, Live Here program aims to boost the local economy and grow the population.

  • The incentive is available to employees of local companies and has drawn 80 new homeowners.

Mississippi County, Arkansas wants to help residents build their dream home, as long as they agree to live in the area for at least four years. To accomplish this goal, it's offering up to $50,000 per household for a new home.

The program — called Work Here, Live Here — is the county's effort to boost the local economy and grow the population, which is just under 40,000 people, per the 2022 Census. A two-and-a-half hour drive from Little Rock, the county borders Tennessee and includes cities like Blytheville and Osceola.

Work Here, Live Here is organized and partially-funded through a group of Mississippi County industries, community groups, and financial institutions like Farmers Bank & Trust. It first started providing resident and mover incentives in the fall of 2022.

The county is one of the nation's top steel-producing areas, President and CEO of Farmers Bank & Trust Randy Scott told Business Insider. And, the incentive program is only available to employees of specific companies, like steel producers Big River Steel, US Steel, and Atlas Tube. Eight companies have partnered with Work Here, Live Here so far, and Scott expects more to join this month.

"We want homeowners that are gonna stay here," Scott said.

Mississippi County's incentive program is part of a recent wave of efforts across rural America to increase populations and local businesses. Areas like Lincoln County, Kansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Columbus, Georgia are paying people to move there, offering perks like discounted gym memberships, internet credits, tax breaks, and up to $10,000 in cash to new residents.

Mover incentive programs have become especially popular in the aftermath of the pandemic, as more jobs are remote or location flexible. And, as the cost of living continues to rise in US cities — especially on the coasts — more prospective homebuyers are being priced out. Some are turning to these smaller cities and counties in the Midwest or South.

For Mississippi County, this growing housing demand has provided an opportunity to build their towns and cities.

"They're going to be here for generations to come," Scott said. "They're your future registered voters, future school board members, future enrollments in the schools."

With housing incentives, Mississippi County hopes to see population growth

In the 20 months since Work Here, Live Here launched, the program has drawn 80 new homeowners to Mississippi County. And, according to Scott, the majority of them are first-generation homebuyers, young people, and young families.

The housing incentive program offers a 10% forgivable loan on a new home construction with a maximum home cost of $500,000, meaning some families can receive up to a $50,000 housing credit. Existing homes can receive a forgivable loan of up to 5%.

Per data provided to BI from Work Here, Live Here, the program has already led to the purchase of 28 new constructions and 52 existing homes. The average price of homes purchased is $270,253 and the average benefit received is $28,767.

"We will have an individual that gets the incentive," Scott said. "And within a week, everyone that works on his shift with him is calling us saying 'hey, how can I participate as well?"'

Work Here, Live Here was initially focused on keeping residents who already lived in Mississippi County, but it has also attracted homebuyers from out of state, Scott said. Participants have come from Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado, and Ohio.

As more families move to or settle in Mississippi County, Scott expects it will have a positive effect on businesses, the school system, and public spaces. Now, he and other northeast Arkansas leaders want to get the word out.

"Once we start having population increase — and there's no reason why we shouldn't with other jobs we have created — the quality of life will follow," Scott said. "You'll get the restaurants, you'll get the retail shops, you'll get the amenities."

Have you been paid to move? Are you open to sharing your pros and cons of moving to a new city? If so, reach out to this reporter at

Correction: June 21, 2024 — An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the incentives for Work Here, Live Here. The program provides funds for the purchase of a home, not home renovations.

Read the original article on Business Insider