Attracting retirees to Lawrence is going to be a job in itself.
Lawrence and Douglas County’s Retiree Attraction Task Force met for the first time Wednesday and made its first order of business to seek more volunteers who want to help the community become a retirement hot spot.
“We want to assess our strengths and weaknesses and really determine what we need to do to be able to promote Lawrence as a premiere retirement destination community,” said City Commissioner Hugh Carter, who is co-chairing the task force with Douglas County Commissioner Jim Flory.
To do that, though, will take a lot of study and more people. The 12-member task force created four subcommittees that will study various aspects of the city’s retiree attraction efforts. The task force is seeking residents who have expertise to offer to the subcommittees, which are:
• Medical services, social services, healthy lifestyles and volunteer opportunities.
• Financial, legal and transportation issues.
• Kansas University, education, cultural entertainment activities.
The task force expects to work through May to develop a report for city and county commissioners. The group also will develop a comprehensive strategy spelling out how the community can promote itself as a retirement destination, including an attraction packet to send to retirees thinking about making a move.
Tapping into KU alumni is a significant part of the effort.
“Manhattan has put together a Retire to the Flint Hills program, and the leaders there have told us to really focus on the university,” said Cynthia Wagner, an assistant city manager working with the task force. “They said that is what will have the most success in bringing people back.”
The task force also will make recommendations about who should manage the community’s efforts to attract retirees, and how the marketing and other activities should be funded. Carter said he is hopeful that any funding needed to sustain the effort can come largely from private-sector businesses that will benefit attracting more retirees.
The city has become interested in attracting more retirees after studies have shown that retirees — especially young retirees who may still be 15 to 20 years away from needed assisted living care — inject a large amount of wealth into a community. For example, one study the city has relied upon estimates the over-50 age group has annual income of $35,000 per person and possesses 80 percent of all savings deposits in the United States.
“What we’re talking about here is economic development and the potential for green economic development,” Carter said.
People interested in serving on one of the task force’s sub-committees can contact Wagner at City Hall, at 832-3400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.