Communities that attract retirees
In 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly created a Certified Community Retirement Program to be administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. This is a community development program for those cities that want to attract retirees to their area as an economic and community development strategy.
The program designates a city with the quality of life desired by the older community. The potential benefits to making a city attractive to retirees are substantial: accumulated wealth brought to the area, developers attracted to building affordable housing and senior facilities, existing retirees remain in the community.
Texas has been very successful with its Certified Retirement Communities (CRC) and estimates that each retirement home that moves into the state creates 1.5 jobs. The GO TEXAN Certified Community Retirement Program has been in operation since 2006 and is currently updating information on the impact of CRCs on member communities. The City of Cuero, Texas has had its CRC designation for two years. Randall Malik, the Chief Executive Officer of Cuero Development Corporation, credits the newly constructed adult day care and assisted living facilities in his city to the active marketing of Cuero as a Certified Retiree Community.
To be considered for certification, a local government must submit an application to the Department of Commerce’s Community Development Division. The city is evaluated on important criteria for retirees: affordable cost of living, low taxes, low crime rate, quality health care, recreation, educational and cultural opportunities, and a welcoming community. Population size does not deter certification, nor does a rural or urban setting. The lack of affordable senior housing is also not a problem because, if certified, developers could be swayed to build. The designation has a useful life of five years, after which communities will need to consider recertification at the end of the five-year period.
The Department of Commerce has established qualification criteria for a Certified Retiree Community.
- Be located within 30 miles of a hospital or emergency medical services (does not have to be within city limits).
- Get support from churches, clubs, businesses, the media.
- Submit an application fee for the 21st Century Communities program of $ 10,000. If the city does not receive the certification, the $ 10,000 will be returned.
- Submit a complete marketing and public relations plan designed to achieve the purpose of the Program to the Department of Commerce.
- Submit a long-term plan outlining the steps the community will take to maintain or enhance its attractiveness as a retirement destination.
- Establish a retiree attraction committee that must be in place for six months before the city can apply for certification. Applications are received twice a year in January and June / July, and it takes several months to review. The committee:
- Assess the community and submit a report to the Department.
- Sends a representative from the committee to state training meetings held by the 21S t Century Communities Program.
- It raises the necessary funds to execute the Program, organizes special events, and promotes and coordinates the Program with local entities.
- Establishes a community image, evaluates target markets, and develops a marketing and public relations plan designed to achieve the purpose of the program.
- Develops a system that identifies and contacts current and potential retirees who will provide tour guides when prospects visit the community, invite prospects to special community events, and maintain ongoing contact with prospects until the prospect makes a decision on the place of retirement.
Communities selected for certification will receive inclusion in statewide marketing efforts, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and grants to support their program.
WHAT IS THERE FOR THE RETIRED?
When retirees seek a Retiree Community, the North Carolina state certification process has already completed a large part of the screening process. The retiree can be sure that the city will be welcoming and will have a minimum level of facilities and services.
At the time of this article, Lumberton, North Carolina was the only Certified Retiree Community in North Carolina, developed in 2010. Connie Russ is the Lumberton Retiree Recruiter / Center Development Coordinator and was instrumental, along with her committee, in the development of the certification program. for North Carolina. Currently, there are three other North Carolina cities certified as retirement communities: Asheboro, Marion, and Sanford.
For more information, you can visit:
http://www.nccommerce.com and look under Tourism. Programs and services
http: // www.ci.lumberton.nc.us/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=174&itemid=252