Travel | September 20, 2019 8:30 am

Italian Town Will Pay You $770 a Month to Start a Small Business

Who needs "Shark Tank"?

Italian Town Will Pay You $770 a Month to Start a Small Business

In the Italian region of Molise, about three hours east of Rome, not a single birth was registered in the year 2018. More than 2,800 inhabitants died or moved away, but no babies arrived in either of the region’s two provinces, Isernia and Campobasso, which comprise a decent stretch of coastline and mountainous countryside in the middle of the country.

It’s part of a growing, disturbing trend for Italy. The number of Italian citizens living in Italy has plummeted in the last five years, down almost 700,000, as birth rates decline and more young professionals search for jobs elsewhere in Europe or in the United States. In order to combat the wave of depopulation, which has turned millennia-old villages into ghost towns, Italian travel agencies have busted out some creative marketing chops. Last year, the mayor of a Sardinian town called Ollolai started offering up homes for a single euro, with the caveat that new residents would refurbish the cottages on their own dime.

But Molise is going further. The region plans to pay new inhabitants $770 a month over the course of three years (that’s $27,000) to move into one of its towns and open a small business. The regional councilor who conceived the concept, Antonio Tedeschi, told CNN Travel: “Newcomers are free to kick-start anything they please in order to get our financial support: a small inn, restaurant, bar, B&B, a tiny rural farm, artisan boutique, library or shop selling local gourmet excellences.”

It’s generally pretty difficult for an expat to waltz into the less-traveled area of a country and start a business. When towns have less than 1,000 people, provincial suspicions are warranted. But that’s not the case here. Tedeschi’s literally paying people to do so, and in this case, it’s highly likely the locals will support the influx of new shops and homeowners, and the visitors they will bring.

If you’re seriously considering this (good for you, life is short and monotonous), you have options. A B&B is probably the easiest from a logistical standpoint, and as Molise packs so much in such a small space, it could be a ski chalet or a beach cottage. You can dream big, and it still won’t cost that much. Applications for the initiative went up today. Visit the Italian National Tourist Agency to learn more.

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