KINGSPORT — The American Association of Retirement Communities recognized Kingsport, Bristol and Sullivan County with the “Seal of Approval” Wednesday at the start of the AARC’s 2012 annual conference, “Livability is Ageless — Investing in Communities and Amenities for All Ages,” at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center.
Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips kicked off the three-day conference by welcoming the association to the city. Attendees traveled here from several states including as far away as Arizona and Florida.
“You all could go anywhere you wanted, and you chose Kingsport, and for that we say thanks,” Phillips said.
The conference will feature various presentations on the importance of attracting retirees to a community for economic development, and what retiring baby boomers are looking for in a community.
Jeff Fleming, Kingsport’s assistant city manager for development, is vice chairman of the AARC.
“In Kingsport, we are fortunate to have long ago recognized the value that retirees can bring to a community, which in part was the genesis for the Move to Kingsport program,” Fleming said.
He said each newcomer generates $25,000 per year in consumer expenditures, “and based on the number of newcomers to Kingsport since 2006, that impact is estimated at more than $30 million annually.”
Allen Borden, assistant commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, said the state’s “Retire Tennessee” initiative is one of only three state programs nationwide aimed at recruiting retirees. He pointed out that last week the Wall Street Journal named Tennessee as the No. 1 state in the country in which to retire.
“Recruiting retirees to our state is certainly a very important ingredient in our overall economic development plan,” Borden said.
State Rep. Jon Lundberg, R-Bristol, also welcomed conference attendees, saying he is not from this area or this state, but moved here, has remained here for 25 years, and plans to retire here for a variety of reasons — from the low cost of living to the natural scenic beauty.
The conference will continue through Friday. For more information visit www.the-aarc.org or www.KingsportTN.gov.
The AARC is a not-for-profit organization established in 1994 to promote the economic enhancement of communities through the promotion of retiree attraction as an economic development strategy.