Brevard, NC has a median age of 44.6 years compared to the national average of 35.3 years. That raised a red flag for me as I reviewed their data prior to my tour and talk. However, my initial concern quickly subsided when I saw that in the case of Brevard it was a major asset rather than a case of a town “aging in place.”
Mark Burrows quickly put my fears to rest, “We are blessed to have a number of very wealthy retirees choosing to move here. Some are very talented and wanting to give back. We’ve tried to tap into their talents.”
In 2004, Burrows set up the Retiree Resource Network to utilize a group of 60 or so retirees with existing and new businesses. One of the early volunteers, Bill Layton, who had worked for Holiday Inn, KFC and Proctor & Gamble, today coordinates the activities of the Network.
Layton told me, “We have 15 retired CEOs of Fortune 500 companies who have retired here. We’ve got a wonderful mix of business experience to call upon. My youngest volunteer is in his 40s and my oldest is an 84 year old former group president for Black & Decker. He has the energy of the 40 year old.”
Layton has been taking the example of the Retiree Resource Network to the National Active Retirement Association. With retirees retiring younger and often with more of their life in front of them than in the rear view mirror, programs like this make a lot of sense for other communities with a large retiree base. I hope that others copy.