County asked to help fund retiree recruitment efforts

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
May 18, 2001
The Meridian Retirement Connection's staff asked Lauderdale County supervisors Thursday for a yearly allocation of $10,000 to supplement the funding they receive from the city of Meridian.
The organization, with an operating budget of $90,000, is an arm the city's Community Development Division.
Rebecca Gentry, the program's new retiree recruitment coordinator and community development specialist, and Dorothy Torgerson, treasurer, made the request at a supervisors' work session.
Torgerson and Gentry gave supervisors literature on current marketing efforts and described how the program benefits both Lauderdale County and Meridian.
Meridian is a certified retirement community with the Hometown Retirement Mississippi program, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority.
A state spokesman for Hometown Retirement Mississippi said in January Meridian has received 14,577 inquiries from retirees since 1994. The number of retiree households relocated was 59. Hattiesburg had received about 13,000 inquiries but their relocations totaled 634.
Torgerson said each retiree relocated to a community is the equivalent to 3.7 factory jobs.
Gentry said attracting retirees is good for a community because retirees are more likely to be active in community improvement projects, more likely to vote and have income to spend.
The supplemental funding would allow the staff to set up a separate budget from the Meridian budget, which funds two staff positions and the program's events and marketing.
District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey led supervisors' supportive responses.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell said the board of supervisors knows how important retirees are to the community, and "I'll think you'll get the support of the board."
District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt said funding the program is another "opportunity for the community to work together."
Board President Jimmie Smith asked County Administrator Rex Hiatt to write the group a letter telling them the requirements for soliciting funding through the county's budget process.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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