Cities Look to Market Themselves to Retirees

December 5, 2013 at 4:00 am CST

Most of the media outlets that covered our Top 10 Best Places to Retire zeroed in on why a particular city made the list. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, a small newspaper in Alabama took things a step further. The Anniston Star suggested that Birmingham, AL (No. 8 on the list) and the surrounding area use its ranking to start a campaign aimed at attracting the growing number of retirees who are looking for new places to live. Here’s a snippet of what ran on the paper’s editorial page:

“What local civic leaders need to do is package what we have to offer in a way that will be appealing to the coming wave of retirees and sell it to them, just as economic developers attempt to convince relocating businesses to relocate here. Retiring Baby Boomers could be a boon for us all and, for the foreseeable future at least, they represent a growth industry.”

Several communities are already doing what the The Anniston Star suggests and have begun to market themselves as retirement destinations rather straightforwardly. One strategy cities and states have taken is the creation of certified retirement programs, which designate communities well suited for retirees. Mississippi officials designated 20 cities as Certified Retirement Cities. Each city went through a three-month screening process conducted by Hometown Mississippi Retirement, the state’s official retiree attraction program. Cities were evaluated on cost of living, taxes, crime rate, medical care, recreation, cultural and having a welcoming community. The outcome is a list of small towns that offer a quieter, more relaxed pace of life. Cities like Tupelo, MS, and Vicksburg, MS, use their designations in recruiting efforts for new residents and new businesses. The state’s tourism website includes pages for each of the Certified Retirement Cities with testimonials from retirees, like Fred and Beverly Stroup, who said they prefer Tupelo to Florida.

Working with the East Texas Council of Governments, the city of Tyler, TX , became the first city to qualify as a Certified Retirement City. Again, those selling the city to new residents, businesses and developers use the designation as a way to show retirees are not only welcomed, but wanted. The Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce got behind the creation of the website , which provides resources and reasons why retirees should consider moving there. Tyler offers retirees fine dining and convenient shopping, as well as a low cost of living, warm climate, rich cultural amenities, and a slew of golf courses and parks.

As more Americans enter retirement more cities will see the value in catering to them, making themselves look appealing to both just joining the workforce and those leaving it.

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