The Valdosta-Lowndes Conference Center was packed Thursday with business and government officials from around south Georgia all hoping to learn the best ways to attract retirees to the area.
Rick Duke, a retirement expert from Georgia Tech, says, "You want retirees because they bring their affluence, they bring their wealth and they bring their desire to enjoy life, which means they spend money."
The experts say south Georgia should continue to promote its health care system and great weather to lure more people. Folks who've tried retirement in Florida before relocating to the Valdosta area say they made the right move for several reasons.
Sandy Prentiss, a retiree, says, "Florida is becoming too cost prohibitive, all the cost associated with the hurricanes, and that's one reason we found Florida wasn't what we wanted it to be. Also, I've never met friendlier people than in south Georgia. They make you feel right at home immediately."
Local government leaders feel attracting retirees is an important effort, simply from an economic standpoint.
Rod Casey, Lowndes County Chairman, says, "Extremely important. [They have] low crime rate, they pay taxes, they volunteer for everything under the sun. If you don't think it's an economic engine, look at Arizona. It is, and it especially is for south Georgia."
It means local leaders will continue their efforts to highlight south Georgia's many positive offerings to retirees while enjoying the economic benefits they bring to our area.
Retirement experts say Georgia must look at developing more retirement communities in order to attract large amounts of seniors.