Jobs at the paper mills and safe manufacturers on this stretch of the Great Miami River mostly dried up by the early 2000s, leaving behind closed factories and an abandoned downtown.
Today, a spruced-up waterfront, loft apartments and help-wanted signs give the appearance of economic renewal. All that’s missing are workers—and that has prompted a novel experiment.
Relocate to Hamilton and the city promises $5,000 to help pay student loans. Pack up for Grant County, Ind., and claim $5,000 toward buying a home. Settle in North Platte, Neb., and the chamber of commerce will hold a ceremony in your honor to present an even bigger check.
Note: Big cities refer to core counties of metropolitan areas with a population of more than one million. Suburban areas are part of counties within those metro areas. Mid-sized cities are between 50,000 and 1 million in population.