A plan to add a new city-county staff member to guide the community’s efforts to attract retirees received some early support at a joint study session Tuesday.
City and county commissioners stopped short of promising to include funding for the position in their 2013 budgets, but several commissioners indicated they were leaning in that direction.
“I think it would be money well spent in the area of economic development,” said City Commissioner Aron Cromwell. “I think there is a potential for a low-cost, high return for our community, not just from an economic development standpoint but from a societal standpoint.”
City and county commissioners at a joint study session Tuesday received the final report from their Retiree Attraction and Retention Task Force. A key recommendation of the task force was to create a new city-county position that could create a portal of information related to attracting retirees. The position also would oversee marketing efforts to attract retirees to Douglas County.
The idea of a new employee has both the support of City Commissioner Hugh Carter and County Commissioner Jim Flory, who co-chaired the task force. But other city and county commissioners on Tuesday said they were intrigued by the idea of a formal effort to attract retirees.
“I think this could be a way to improve our community for everyone,” said Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman.
The task force also recommended hiring a marketing company to create a formal strategy to reach out to retirees. The task force did not come up with cost estimates for either the new position or the marketing plan. But Flory said he envisioned taking a “small amount” of the current money set aside for economic development to fund the new position. Carter said private partners — everybody from Kansas University Endowment to home builders and financial institutions — could be approached about providing some funding for the marketing plan.
Task force members said they believe attracting retirees to the community could provide a significant economic development boost. Their report estimated the upcoming crop of retirees control 70 percent of the nation’s wealth and account for 40 percent of consumer demand.
City and county commissioners are expected to bring up the issue of adding the new position as part of their 2013 budget process, which will conclude in the late summer.