Horry and Beaufort Counties Lead the South Carolina in “Retiree Attraction”

CHARLOTTE, NC (October 6, 2010) – Horry (Myrtle Beach) and Beaufort Counties stack up as the two most popular South Carolina retirement counties, according to a NARA analysis of SC driver's license records from 2002 through this month. 888.742.7362
Oct. 7, 2010 - PRLog -- CHARLOTTE, NC (October 6, 2010) – Horry (Myrtle Beach) and Beaufort Counties stack up as the two most popular South Carolina retirement counties over the past decade, according to a National Active Retirement Association (NARA) analysis of SC Department of Motor Vehicle (SCDMV) records from 2002 through this month. Together, the two counties attracted over 60,000 new residents over age 50 with more than half of those over age 60.

“Myrtle Beach obviously experienced tremendous growth as a tourism, retirement and second home market and benefitted from huge, huge tourism spending,” said NARA Executive Director Dan Owens. “Beaufort seemed to have been “discovered” by retirees about 20 years ago and private developers have really promoted that area. Both areas have enjoyed huge accumulated local investment and spending by 50+ transplants,” he added.

Rounding out the top 15 SC 60+ “hotspots” are Greenville, Charleston, York, Aiken, Spartanburg, Richland, Lexington, Lancaster, Georgetown, Anderson, Berkeley, Dorchester and Oconee Counties.

These statistics and SC retirement trends will be discussed at the 11th Annual National Active Retirement Association (NARA) “Power Tools” Conference Oct. 20-22 at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. (www.retirementlivingnews.com).

“Almost all of these counties are associated with strong urban economies or great tourism destinations,” said Owens. Two surprises, he said, were the strong rankings of two smaller counties a little “off the beaten path.” Lancaster and Oconee. Oconee, located in the northwest SC “Golden Corner” has lakes and rolling foothills and is near Clemson, a great college town. Located just south of Charlotte, NC, Lancaster County owes its high ranking to the emergence of Del Webb Sun City Carolina Lakes, a 1,500 acre 55+ age-restricted community with 3,000 residents.

“55+ Charlotte residents have flocked to Sun City Carolina Lakes as well as those empty nesters and retirees from around the Carolinas and beyond,” said Owens, adding that the community has set national sales records for Pulte Homes, owner of Del Webb. In 2010, Carolina Lakes has been the most popular selling community or development in the Greater Charlotte area.”

In the first nine months of this year, Lancaster County attracted 412 new 60+ drivers/residents, according to the SCDMV data. “Studies show that a typical retiree couple generates the economic equivalent of 3.7 manufacturing or industrial jobs,” Owens said. “By that rule of thumb, Lancaster County landed 760 new jobs this year.”

Other smaller South Carolina counties didn’t rank in the top 15 but were close. And, with their total population smaller, the number of retirees these counties attracted has had a bigger impact than urban areas, Owens said. Those counties include Pickens (Clemson), Florence, Sumter, Greenwood, Orangeburg (Santee), Kershaw (Camden), Darlington, Clarendon (Manning),  Laurens (Clinton), Cherokee (Gaffney) and McCormick. Some of these communities don’t attract droves of tourists, but are seen as great, affordable places to live, Owens said.

“There’s no question that the 663 new 60+ residents in the past nine years that have relocated from out of state to McCormick County have made a huge financial impact,” he said. McCormick County is the smallest county in the state and has very little industry. But, a major 55+ housing community, Savannah Lakes Village, has been a draw.

NARA is an 11-year-old business trade group that is an advocate for businesses that market to, build for and serve 55+ consumers. The group is a proponent of Southern towns, regions and states attracting retiree transplants to increase local wealth, spending and taxes.

South Carolina could do more by promoting rural areas of the state to out of state transplants and working to get new 55+ housing developments in the state, Owens said. South Carolina has not actively pursued retirement as an industry like Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi has, according to Owens. “I think the state has left a lot of wealth and spending on the table – especially in rural areas of the state – by not ramping up or even focusing on retiree attraction efforts,” he said.

NARA will be hosting a number of national speakers that will be discussing the new Retiree Attraction industry Oct. 20-22 at their annual conference in Columbia, SC (www.retirementlivingnews). Texas’ state retiree attraction director, Sherri Gothart-Barron will discuss that state’s success and what new retirees have meant economically to Texas communities. Dr. John Cromartie, a senior demographer at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., will be discussing his extensive research into rural retirement migration. Dr. Gene Warren of TW+A Research in Phoenix, AZ, Dan Owens of NARA and Pat Mason of the Center for Carolina Living in Columbia, SC are also on the conference faculty. In addition, Helen Foster of Foster Strategy, a J. Walter Thompson Mature Market Group alum, will also talk about her experiences consulting with the State of Louisiana on their 55+ marketing strategy to retirees.

“South Carolina has been a top 10 national retiree relocation market in the past, but there are indications that the state may be slowly losing out to more aggressive and focused states,” said Owens. “Budgets are tight, but luring retirees needs to be viewed like luring new manufacturing plants and new workers. You’ve got to cast the net to catch the fish,” he said.

Owens noted that billions in South Carolina home sales this decade can be traced back to out of state empty nesters and retirees buying primary and second homes. The added benefit is that these transplants bring lots of income, spending power and taxes, but don't require school services, he said.


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The National Active Retirement Association (NARA) is a 10-year old, grassroots trade organization that organizes and helps marketers, builders and professionals, businesses and organizations that provide products, housing and services to people age 55+. The 2010 11th Annual NARA conference will bring together businesses, government entities and organizations that see aging boomers and their parents as one of their top markets. With 76 million Baby Boomers rapidly aging and the "leading edge" or oldest boomers turning 65 next year, many organizations and businesses are gearing up to target products, services and housing to this exploding demographic. The NARA Conference focuses on sales, marketing, building, designing, financing, retiree attraction and a full view of the impact this 55+ age segment will be making. With almost 80 percent of all financial wealth held by people 50+, the aging of America promises to be a formidable business force that will affect all organizations.
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