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Attracting Retirees for Economic Development

Can Active Adults/Retirees Stimulate the Economy?

Overview of the Retirement Attraction Industry

Economic development groups have for years sought to bring high tech, biotech and other high-paying manufacturing jobs to communities throughout the United States.  Along the way, many American manufacturing jobs have pulled up and headed to a foreign country.

Nationally, the United States has lost over 2.8 million manufacturing jobs since 2000. The competition for the few new jobs and expansions is hotly contested among towns and cities across the South and the nation. And, companies have learned that they can exploit incentives that drain municipal, county and state coffers.

Another form of economic development - tourism - has helped many communities, especially those with lakes, mountains, man-made attractions or those near the coast. But, tourism is seasonal and takes considerable promotional resources annually to pay dividends. In other words, tourists have to be courted year after year to return.

An “under the radar” industry is retirement migration. It is an industry in which many communities can compete, but, traditionally, neither economic developers or tourism officials have seen retirees as their area of focus. In fact, there are very few government or private organizations that are dedicated to tracking and promoting retirement as economic development.

There are 78 million baby boomers – the largest age segment in the history of the world – preparing to retire. This age segment is often described as a “Pig in a Python.” A person today turns 50 every six seconds and, currently, 77 percent of all wealth in America is held by people 50+.

The oldest boomer turns 65 in early 2011. Millions are planning now on where they will be retiring. In a recent national survey, 38 percent of those 60-69 who said they would move in retirement said they would move out of state. Over two-thirds of all respondents 51-69 said they would they will be seeking a more affordable location in retirement.
A retiree couple is the equivalent of 3.7 manufacturing jobs, experts say. Retirees transfer their wealth from other US communities across state and county lines. They generally have higher disposable incomes, better educations and put much less a burden on our streets, infrastructure or schools. They are active volunteers in schools and in civic, cultural and religious organizations.

Because they have higher wealth, on average, they pay higher taxes on purchases and property.

The retiree couple never shows up on the security tape robbing up the gas station. Quite the contrary. They bring social capital - their experiences and education - to their new community. They add to the quality of life. They are good citizens and many prospective retirees are receptive to moving from their current home.

The National Active Retirement Association (NARA) encourages communities to consider launching a retiree attraction program. Contact us if you would like to find resources that can help your efforts.

NARA feels that in the coming years many communities will use retiree recruitment programs to promote their area and encourage active adults and boomers to invest in their town. Retiree Attraction is less expensive than traditional Economic Development. This is a strategy that is paying handsome dividends to communities that have adopted this strategy.