Retirees boost economy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Retirees boost economy

March 11, 2008

Lowndes County - Several south Georgia cities are working to attract retirees to town. But the slumping housing market, high gas prices and a struggling economy slowed relocations to a trickle.

Retirees poured in from Florida a few years ago.  Now, leaders in Lowndes County hope for a return to those numbers and their pinning their hopes on a new development.

With a troubled economy, the Lowndes County chamber of commerce says they need retirees now more than ever.

"That's the exact reason we want to attract and relocate retirees because they help stabilize the economy in the community," says Alison Stokes.  "They spend $36,000 annually going out to eat, entertainment, shopping and those kinds of things."

Many Florida retirees first made the move after a rough hurricane season in 2004.

"At the time there were a large number of people who jumped the gun, sold their homes, made huge profits and came right on in here and moved right in," says Sandra Hayden, Sales Director at Southern Landing.

The Chamber welcomed them with opened arms.

But now a struggling housing market is keeping them at bay.  "They are still eager and planning to move and making steps to move when the community is ready but they do have to sell their homes," Hayden says.

"There's an overabundance of home on the market and certainly in Florida there are," STokes adds.

They chamber is now increasing their efforts to draw them back in and hope Southern Landing, a new housing development will be their secret weapon.

"It's an active adult retirement community. A 55 and better community where it's a lifestyle community with all kinds of amenities, a lifestyle director and things to do."

They say things are looking good and hope to have new retirees spending in the community soon.

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