Georgia has considerable potential to realize economic development gains from attracting retirees, but it lags behind neighboring states in doing so, according to a study completed earlier this year by Georgia Tech’s Enterprise Innovation Institute for the Georgia Rural Economic Development Center at East Georgia College.
“While Georgia ranked sixth nationally in the total number of in-migrating retirees from 1995 to 2000, (it) had a net loss of retirees to Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina,” said the study’s report. “Further development of housing options along with coordinated marketing of the viability of Georgia as a retirement destination can reverse the negative trend with these three neighboring states.”
Capturing market share in the senior-housing arena requires multidisciplinary approaches to address regulatory, policy, infrastructure and other issues, but – according to researchers – the benefits are “enormous,” especially given the coming surge of retiring baby boomers. “With Georgia ranking in the top 10 of states attracting retirees,” they reported, “it is not unreasonable to expect that it could, with proper attention to policy changes, improve its share of the retirement services market to a projected 10 percent.”
What does that mean economically? According to the research, with a 10 percent share of the market in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) and active adult retirement communities (AARC), Georgia would see sizable gains in jobs and revenues. For example, jobs related to CCRCs would increase by some 2,700, with each of the smallest regions gaining about 200 industry-related jobs.
Net state revenue for the industry’s expansion would be $6.43 million, and net local government revenues would rise by $2.5 million. With AARCs, total jobs would increase by approximately 28,000, and even the smallest rural region would see an additional 1,000 jobs. Net state revenue would increase by $82 million and local government revenues by $31 million.
Two keys to success of both CCRC and AARC development, according to the study, are having sufficient capital for predevelopment work (e.g. market assessment, site location) and knowing building requirements and pricing for the prospective market and its particular needs.
The report stated that several rural and suburban communities in Georgia can position themselves to reap significant economic, health care, and quality-of-seniors-housing benefits. “We’re at the beginning of what can be a tsunami of health care and elder care economic opportunity,” said Georgia Tech’s Rick Duke of the study.
The project team included East Georgia College, Georgia Southern University, and Georgia State University, in addition to Georgia Tech.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of the Enterprise Innovation Institute newsletter Focus on Communities.
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Writer: Nancy Fullbright