"Coming from this town to go there?" asked software developer Chris Cera, 34, of South Philadelphia, in an interview last week. "Maybe if I had family there."
Buying business is nothing new in the toolbox of economic development - consider the Aker Philadelphia Shipyard and the proposed city warehouse operation in the Northeast for Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, the Israeli-based manufacturer of generic drugs.
But these incentives, which often run in the millions of dollars in government grants and loans, typically apply to businesses, not individuals, with job creation as the goal. In Chattanooga's case, its offer is intended for only 10 individuals - a group meant to seed the hoped-for growth in that sector.
"I'm glad we live in a place that's so attractive that we don't have to do that," said Thomas Morr, president of Select Greater Philadephia, a nonprofit that tries to attract businesses to the region.
Grants to individuals aren't unheard of, he said.
But they are rare.
Here's how J. Ed Marston, an official with Chattanooga's Chamber of Commerce and a coordinator of the "GeekMove" program sees it:
"What we want to do is build up a culture," he said.
"We want people who are in the same residential area who are interacting professionally and personally to build the environment into something attractive for [tech] developers."
Marketing itself as "Gig City" - gigabit, get it? - Chattanooga has already made its mark in tech by being the nation's first city to make super-speedy Internet access of one-gigabit-per-second widely available.
The city's aim is as much city development as it is tech capacity. A few years ago, Chattanooga, a city of about 168,000, mounted a similar program to attract artists to one "resurging" neighborhood. That area is now thriving, Marston said, so the geek program is targeting other marginal neighborhoods.
"What we have found is that person-to-person connections are much stronger and much more effective" than marketing campaigns, Marston said. "There is a cascade effect," as newly converted Chattanooga citizens invite friends and business partners to relocate, without an incentive.
Alex Hillman, the founder of Indy Hall in Philadelphia and a consultant on tech community building, thinks Chattanooga's effort will fail.
Instead of focusing on intrinsic motivators, such as the presence of an already existing vibrant tech community and the opportunity for work, it wrongly relies on extrinsic motivations, i.e. money, he said.
"As soon as the money goes away, these people are going to be gone," Hillman predicted.
Cheyne Rood, 30, who rents in Northern Liberties, would be ideal. Conversant in many computer languages, he already works remotely and has no family ties here.
"I could move anywhere" he said, looking up from his laptop at Indy Hall. "I'm completely mobile." He likes that.
Which is why he has no interest in Chattanooga's offer, even though the $10,000 loan, forgivable in three years, would go a long way in a town where a charming three-bedroom bungalow with a porch and fireplace costs $115,000.
"I like the idea that they want to embrace tech," Rood said, but the house "becomes a bit of an albatross around your neck."
So far, Chattanooga has received 30 applications for its 10 slots, made five grants, and welcomed five new citizens.
But none have taken Chattanooga up on its offer - they all prefer to rent.
Contact Jane M. Von Bergen at email@example.com, @JaneVonBergen on Twitter, or at 215-854-2769. Read her workplace blog at www.philly.com/jobbing .