Georgia calling all "half backs" - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia calling all "half backs"

January 30, 2007

Albany-  Retirees may be the latest economic development tool. Governor Sonny Perdue wants to eliminate state income taxes on upper income retirees to convince them to settle in Georgia. It's good news for the "Good Life City" that launched a new strategy to attract retirees here to south Georgia.

Just last week, city leaders heard a proposal to turn the Water, Gas, & Light Building into independent retiree apartments, complete with a valet and gardens.

"Then we would have a product, you would have a product to sell for retirees, a specific retiree development," said Annie Baxter, Albany Dougherty Chamber of Commerce Director of Special Projects.

In fact the push to attract "half backs" as they're called or people who want to move half way back from Florida is on. A proposal from Governor Sonny Perdue to eliminate tax on retirement income for Georgians 65 and older by 2013 may help.

"If we can get some relief on retirement income I think it will help to promote this as a retirement area," said Kay Hind, SOWEGA Council on Aging.

Kay Hind thinks the proposal would help many retirees on a fixed income.

"It still cost a lot of money to get prescription drugs and your medical bills so I think anything that would give them more income that they could spend would be a big benefit," said Hind.

A big benefit if retirees chose to spend that extra money here. The impact of just one affluent retiree on a community is estimated at $33,000 in spendable income, $320,000 in investment or net worth and for every retiree who moves in one and a half jobs is created. The Albany Dougherty Chamber is getting on average 15 inquiries from retirees a week.

"So if people are coming here without us targeting them imagine the impact we can have if we do target them," said Baxter.

Florida's cost of living is so much higher than Georgia and when you add the incentive of no income tax, south Georgia could see some real economic impact, that is if they convince retirees Albany really is the Good Life City.

Not everyone is sold on the tax break idea. Even the AARP says it would only benefit 10 percent of Georgians over age 65.

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