Recent college grads who are saddled with debt may want to consider a move to New Jersey. According to an article from CBS News, 30-year-old director of community development in Niagra Falls, NJ, Seth Piccarrillo, is offering $7,000 to young professionals who move to the struggling city. Piccarrillo guarantees the money, which will go toward the grad’s student loan debt, over the course of two years.
The city of Niagra Falls, like many other U.S. housing markets, has seen tough economic times since the financial crisis. The downtown area has been neglected, with much of the area in disprepair. Jobs are hard to come by. Since 1960, the city has lost roughly half of its population. Be that as it may, Piccarrillo insists that his hometown isn’t a lost cause. By bringing in a fresh new workforce with valuable job and leadership skills, he hopes to stimulate the city’s economy.
“These college grads have a need,” said Piccarrillo. “We have a need because we want them to live here, so we decided to put the two together.”
According to Piccarrillo, more than 200 enthusiastic applicants have already contacted him. Interested applicants range from all over the country, from California to the Carolinas, and some hailing from nearby New England states.
According to the CBS News article, college grads aren’t the only ones who welcome such an opportunity; many of the city’s residents are also on board. Longtime Niagra Falls resident Jim Orr was quoted as saying the following in the CBS article:
“If we can help them pay off their student loans, by coming back to Niagara Falls, encouraging them to work, maybe even open a business here, that would be terrific.”
But this isn’t just about making the city’s economy better. It’s about keeping the city alive. According to Piccarrillo, if the city’s population falls below 50,000, they will lose access to essential government aid.
“It’s about survival. If we dip below 50,000, we will lose access to federal and state resources,” he said. “So attracting new people has to be the priority.”