Meanwhile, not much is being said about the positive impact retirees can have on the states and communities that attract them.
In the past, conventional wisdom assumed that retirees will move out of the frozen North and into the Sunbelt, where they will settle into God’s warm waiting room. However, studies are beginning to show that this generation of retirees seek more that sunny climes and good golf courses.
Recently, Livability.com, a blog that analyzes the quality of life in small and mid-size cities, rated the places that are attractive to retirees. Settled comfortably at No. 8 was Birmingham.
What is significant about this ranking is that many of Birmingham’s offerings to retirees are also found in Anniston and Gadsden and counties like Calhoun and Etowah.
According to the analysis, Baby Boomer retirees are looking for more than a warm place in the sun and a cozy room in which to play bingo. Baby Boomer retirees want to visit, and often relocate, in places where they can stay active, healthy and engaged. Birmingham — with its good health-care facilities, its parks and recreational activities, its colleges and the educational/cultural opportunities they offer, its relatively low cost of living and dining that ranges from barbecue to white tablecloths — has what Baby Boomer retirees want.
So do our cities here in northeast Alabama – albeit on a smaller scale, which might be a point in our favor.
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. The development of additional retirement communities at McClellan is a sign of what’s possible — even though McClellan’s future is much more than a center for Baby Boomers.
Nevertheless, retiring Baby Boomers could be a boon for us all and, for the foreseeable future at least, they represent a growth industry.
The time is now, the opportunity presents itself, seize it.