The head of Iowa’s Department of Elder Affairs says state policymakers shouldn’t focus all their recruiting zeal on young people. Elder Affairs director Mark Haverland says “we ought to compete for the retirement generation as actively as we do the younger generation because they have huge resources that’ll be of great value to us in our communities.” Haverland retirement communities could be a real growth industry. Haverland says retirement communities connected to assisted living centers and nursing homes will be especially attractive so people can buy “one product” that’ll serve all their needs as they age. Haverland says Iowa has a huge competitive advantage because the cost of retirement communities in California, Texas and Florida are much high. He says as you grow older, location becomes less important as folks are more interested in being in a place where you find people who share your interests. Haverland says the Mayflower retirement community in Grinnell is a prime example of how attractive Iowa can be to mobile elderly folks. Haverland says Grinnell College provides intellectual and cultural stimulation for the folks in that retirement community. He believes an increasing number of people will move to Iowa in retirement, partly because a retiree can sell their house in California, move to a retirement community in Iowa and still have hundreds of thousands of dollars left over for travel, other entertainment or to leave to their kids. Haverland says state policymakers shouldn’t overlook the fact unlike the recent college grads Governor Vilsack and others repeatedly talk about luring back to the state, these kind of upwardly-mobile elderly will be spreading more money around town if they move here. Haverland says they’ll be buying cars and clothes, and they’ll also do valuable volunteer work around their community.
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