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Washington highlighted at retirement expo in Washington, D.C.

As a Yankee from New England, now living at the Pamlico Plantation, I was asked to represent Washington/ Beaufort County at the Retire NC booth at the Ideal-Living Resort and Retirement Exposition at Tysons Corner, Virginia on March 3 and 4.

The Ideal-Living Resort and Retirement Show is a convenient and fun way to explore the best places to vacation, retire, or relocate all in one place. Well respected for more than 25 years, Ideal-Living is best known for helping retirees and second-home seekers find their ideal community and home.

Ideal-Living hosted approximately 750 attendees from Washington, D.C., northern Virginia and Maryland. I was not surprised to find out most of the attendees were very interested in North Carolina as a retirement destination in the state’s Coastal, Piedmont and Mountains areas. Attendees were looking at making their moves in the next three months to five years.

Ninety percent of the people who came by our booth had never heard of Washington. I told them we were more often referred to as the ‘Original Washington’ or ‘Little Washington.’ However, I stressed they should really think of us as the ‘Affordable Washington.’ I also suggested they drive Route 17 as a way to travel south into North Carolina instead of Route 95 to see all that eastern North Carolina has to offer.

Some of you might not realize it, but a group of business and community leaders met and worked for a couple of years to make Washington a designated Retire NC community. A great deal of effort goes into the certification process that takes over six months to complete. The Certified Retirement Community designation signifies a city has completed a comprehensive, required evaluation process outlined by the North Carolina General Assembly.

Certified Retirement Communities are recognized for providing amenities, services and valuable opportunities retirees need to enjoy active and productive lives. There are currently 17 certified communities in North Carolina whose names can be located at www.retirenc.com/certified-communities.

While the State of North Carolina promotes Washington and Beaufort County, it is up to our local Retire NC committee to provide the marketing materials to the state and administer the program locally. The Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and The Washington Tourism Development Authority are the two agencies that manage the program day to day. Many businesses, the City of Washington and Beaufort County have underwritten the cost of the program and marketing materials.

In addition to me, Andre Nabors, who supervises the state-wide Retire NC program, along with a representative of the Edenton Economic Development commission were also in in attendance at the exposition. Following the Expo, each Retire NC community, as well as each sponsor organization, receives email address of all interested people for follow-up. Those people are then sent an email extending an invitation to visit Washington to see for themselves what a great places Washington and Beaufort County are. Providing personal attention to each person who shows interest in Washington is labor intensive, but this is the best way to attract potential retirees to our area. Our county is already an eye-catching place for retirees with the most recent statistics showing that Beaufort County is made up of approximately 22 percent retirees.

With two successful expositions under our belt, Washington/Beaufort County Retire NC committee is looking forward to participating in the future coming Ideal-Living Expos that will take place in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Kentucky, New York and Illinois.

 

Sandy Mitchell is a Beaufort County resident.