Time is ripe to woo remote workers, Augusta told – Brockville Recorder and Times - Freelance Rack

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Friday, July 3, 2020

Time is ripe to woo remote workers, Augusta told – Brockville Recorder and Times

Michael Adamcryk, right, and James Wilson speak to Brockville council in this 2019 file photo. (FILE) Ronald Zajac / Ronald Zajac/The Recorder and Times

The COVID-19 crisis offers a “tremendous opportunity” to persuade big-city residents to relocate to this area, a private company is telling local municipalities.

SLX, a “residential attraction company,” says the surge in remote workers caused by the pandemic means the time is ripe to woo them to the southern Leeds and Grenville municipalities with the region’s lower-cost housing and attractive lifestyle.

The company says that attracting traditional jobs in manufacturing and industry will be harder than ever in the wake of COVID-19, making remote workers even more important.

And the pandemic “has increased the urgency” of addressing the region’s population concerns of aging demographics and the shortage of traditional jobs, the company contends.

SLX is making the rounds of the seven municipalities that are members of the St. Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission to sell its head-hunting services.

The four principals of SLX are associated with the municipally-owned corridor commission, but their private company is separate from it. The four SLX owners are commission chairman David Beatty, Prescott Mayor Brett Todd, a member of the commission, and Michael Adamcryck and James Wilson, who helped set up the commission.

In a sales pitch to Augusta Township council this week, Beatty and Adamcryck stressed that their company operates on a “pay-only-for-results” basis.

SLX will do the marketing, surveys and sales work to attract new residents. The municipality will pay a fee for each household that the company successfully attracts there. If the company doesn’t attract people to Augusta, the township would pay nothing, they said.

“This presents an opportunity to support the recovery strategies of the COVID-19 crisis,” the company said. “We can address the surge of remote workers who now have the ability to escape the city and look for a better, more affordable lifestyle in our region.”

Beatty said SLX wants to persuade remote workers in the triangle of Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa to exchange their expensive houses for the more affordable ones in southern Leeds and Grenville.

His company will try to match employees with available jobs as well as chasing remote workers, he said. If the area needs electrical engineers, SLX will go after those professionals.

The company’s sales efforts will focus on the workers on a personal level, too, said Beatty. If the prospects are golfers, sailors or scuba divers, say, the company will introduce them to the advantages of this region.

Adamcryck said SLX began looking at remote workers in the Ottawa area in 2019, pre-COVID-19.

A survey commissioned by SLX found that 63 per cent of employees were able to work from home, said Adamcryck, adding the the pandemic likely has pushed that number to closer to 100 per cent.

More significantly, the survey found that half of those surveyed at-home workers had considered relocating, he said.

Township council agreed to open talks with SLX on a service contract. Beatty and Adamcryck said their company hoped to have signed contracts with all seven municipalities by the end of the year.

Adamcryck said the company is a for-profit venture but he was unable to say what it wants to charge for the households it persuades to locate to Augusta.

The company hopes to have a common fee for all its municipal clients and those contracts are still being negotiated, he said.

The financial benefits of new residents are huge, he said. Newcomers who chose to build their own home would spend about $100,000 on local materials and $159,000 on local wages, said Adamcryck. Their property taxes would add $3,500 a year to the municipality.

On average, each new household would spend $25,600 a year in the township, he added.


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