We want retirees

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Is working to lure a retirement community to Andalusia worth it?


There are numerous reasons Andalusia's citizenry should be pulling together to support the location of a retirement community to our city, not the least of which is a stable economic impact retirees have on a community.

According to statistics released by retirement industry officials, retirees of today are not the retirees of the 1950s and 60s. Instead, these are individuals of a much younger age, a larger disposable income of around $30,000 a year and nearly $200,000 in the bank. No, these aren't necessarily the little old ladies playing bridge and little old men playing shuffle board. These are vibrant, community-minded, educated people looking for a nice place to live out the next phase of their life, and perhaps start a new business.

According to Lin Graham, executive director of Southeast Alabama Trails, Andalusia and Covington County is in a prime position to capitalize on the retirement industry.

Rich Lopez, a consultant with SEATS agrees. These are two people, along with county economic development officials, who are aggressively pursuing the retiree market in Covington County.

According to SEATS, more than 1.8 million people in the midwest have been identified as potential retirees looking to relocate in the SEATS region, and 17 thousand of those are baby boomers looking specifically at Covington County and other nearby areas.

That's a lot of people and a lot of new income.

The SEATS program has been so successful in its attempts to recruit retirees, that Florida, Orlando in particular, has commissioned a study and contacted SEATS to find out how they are taking retirees away from the land of the mouse.

According to Lopez, "The Florida market is moving this way."

That's been documented in national magazines and studies.

And we, as a community, need to continue to do everything we can to help bring them here and keep them here.

Are leaders are doing the job. They're working diligently to see the process through. We, as citizens need to do the same.

We need to continue to take pride in our cities, parks and resources. Those are some of the best things we have going for us. Not to mention our great climate, location, top-quality schools, and clean environment.

But, above all, according to Graham and Lopez, our biggest asset is ourselves.

"We want people to feel welcome," Graham says. And Lopez adds, "People in the region are the biggest factor in retirees looking at the area and staying here."

We encourage our friends and neighbors to join our leaders in looking for retirees - afterall, we know what makes this place great, now let's share it with the world.