By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Have you ever thought of Tarboro as a retirement community?
Tarboro officials have and they are expecting to move forward in January when they apply to become a Certified Retirement Community through the N.C. Department of Commerce.
The objective of the program is to encourage retirees and those planning to retire, to make North Carolina their home and promote the state as a retirement destination. So far only six towns in the state holds that designation, including Eden, Lumberton, Pittsboro, Ashboro, Mt. Airy and Sandford. Tarboro officials would like their town to become the seventh.
"There's only a few in the entire state," said Mayor Pro Tem Taro Knight. "If we can become a Certified Retirement Community, and have people come to our town, and they come here to stay, that's great."
Certified Retirement Communities are marketed by the N.C. Department of Commerce nationally by promoting tourism and advertising the selected towns. Tarboro officials hopes the marketing scheme will draw more people to its historic town of 10,000.
Josh Edmondson, tarboro planner and Morgan Whitehurst, senior center supervisor, are at the forefront of overseeing the application. The extensive process, which initiated in June, is still in its beginning stages. A $10,000 fee is be charged for the completed application, but is refunded if the town is not selected, Edmondson said.
The 12-page application includes extensive questions concerning the town's demographics, services for retirees as well as leisure/cultural opportunities.
"Every thing they're asking for a retirement community, Tarboro pretty much has," Edmondson said. "Retirees sometimes wander in my office. They actually love coming to old, historic towns. They want to come in where they can open a business and join civic organizations. We have a number of civics group and volunteer opportunities. The number of opportunities and good things that could happens out weigh any negative that associated with it. "
Whitehurst said, "You're bringing more people in town. By doing this you are creating more opportunity. Meaning if you have more people who will need more retail, more restaurants to support these people."
To assist with the elaborate process, Tarboro selected a 11-committee panel of professionals including bankers, healthcare, realtor, a member from the historic district, the Art Council and a representative from the county. The committee will be responsible for completing the application as well as selecting "community partners" who will assist with improving the town's chances of earning the distinction.
"We want to get our people involved in this," Edmondson said. "We will be talking to different businesses and groups to ask them what they can do for retirees. "What kind of services they provide. They will play a key role in this process."
Whitehurst added, "There are huge numbers of people retiring in the United States on a daily basis. The numbers are huge. You have the baby booming population will start coming out left and right. To miss out on such a huge population, you are missing out on a lot of possible income for your town. People are living longer. People are healthier these days. They are more active. They want to do things. Although they have retired, they have not stopped. They want to start a second phase of their lives."