Ascend West Virginia bringing new residents to Morgantown

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The inaugural class of remote workers as part of the Ascend West Virginia program is beginning to relocate to Morgantown, the first city in the state to be a host for the program.

Brad and Alys Smith

West Virginia native and Intuit founder and chairman Brad Smith and his wife Alys founded the program within the West Virginia University Outdoor Economic Collaborative with a $25 million endowment last year.

The first group was selected from 7,500 applications received from around the world and represents the first step in solidifying West Virginia as the top remote-work state in the nation.

“Fifty-three incredibly talented new West Virginians, but they’re bringing with them their families, so a total of 110 people will be moving into Morgantown,” Smith said Thursday on MetroNews “Talkline.” “Eleven have already made housing decisions and eight have already purchased homes.”

Those not selected for the program were offered $2,500 in mortgage assistance to move to West Virginia through a partnership with Rocket Mortgage.

The class of 53 includes people from 21 states and the District of Columbia, one as far away as Berlin, Germany with the most new residents coming from California. The average wage of the class is $105,000 annually.

“It’s game changer for these individuals who are coming to a state that we know is almost heaven. It’s a game changer for the local communities as we welcome these new West Virginians in and they bring with them their jobs, their families, their talents and their purchasing power,” Smith said.

The incentives included in the Ascend West Virginia program include $12,000 in cash for relocation, one year of free outdoor activities valued at more than $2,500, free working space, access to continuing education through the John Chambers College of Business and Economics entrepreneurship ecosystem, special events with state leaders and guided excursions to attractions in the state.

Quintina Mengyan

The first class member to arrive in Morgantown as part of the program is Quintina Mengyan. Mengyan works remotely as the director of customer experience for Vivid Seats.

“Being in Chicago for 10 years and during the pandemic, I just felt like I’ve seen enough of my four walls and it’s time to get outside and what better place than West Virginia to do something,” Mengyan said during a “Talkline” appearance Thursday.

Mengyan moved to Morgantown with the family dog and her boyfriend. She said she no longer waits for vacation to explore the outdoors and seek new adventures. Worden is a West Virginia native who moved to Florida for work and will now move back to his home state. Worden is a system architect with Denmark-based Danfoss, a global leader in mobile hydraulics.

“It’s honestly, truly a breath of fresh air, there’s so much open space and so many things to do that everything is far different than Chicago,” Mengyan said. “I’m welcoming the change with open arms.”

Mengyan and her family have a long list of things they want to experience in the Mountain State.

“Definitely want to get a kayak soon and maybe some whitewater rafting,” Mengyan said. “Really, everything Chicago doesn’t have to offer I’m ready to explore.”

Applications are now being accepted for Lewisburg, the next host city.

Editor’s Note  In the original story, Matt Worden was incorrectly identified as Quintina Mengyan’s boyfriend. Worden is one of the 53 selected for the application pool of 7,500. MetroNews apologizes for the error.

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