City will bid to show off in try to attract retirees

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2002

[06/12/02]Vicksburg will put in a bid Friday to bring at least 100 couples to the city in June 2003 to interest them in moving here after they retire.

The program is part of the city’s 1997 designation as a certified retirement community by the Mississippi Development Authority’s Hometown Retirement Program.

It is called Hometown Getaway, and each of the state’s 20 certified communities may bid to be the host city, said Yvette Mangum, director of Vicksburg Retirement Development at the Chamber of Commerce.

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Next year’s event is June 12-14. Natchez, Oxford and the Gulf Coast have been host communities in the past.

“Retirement development is an economic development program,” Mangum said. “We’ve come to realize over the years that retirees bring a lot in without taking a lot away from the community.”

Since 1997, Vicksburg has attracted about 140 retirees, and each household is worth about $30,000 a year, she said.

“That means we’ve brought roughly $4 million into the community, and that happens every year, not just one time,” Mangum said.

Vicksburg’s bid is based on housing and entertaining a maximum of 250 people, 100 retiree couples and 35 to 40 volunteers and program directors.

The retirees will stay at Battlefield Inn, and the directors and volunteers, at Fairfield Inn or Ameristar Hotel.

Receptions in various shops in downtown Vicksburg will be followed by dinner theater at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center or the Vicksburg Convention Center. The entertainment portion will be “Gold In The Hills,” the old-time melodrama presented in Vicksburg since 1936.

Tours follow the next day as do sessions on all Mississippi retirement communities. A reception at the Isle of Capri will culminate events.

Mangum said the decision of which city gets to be host will be made in August.

To become a certified retirement community, Mississippi cities must show they can provide a certain quality of life. Some of the criteria deal with health-care facilities, law enforcement and fire protection, recreation facilities and opportunities, tax structure and entertainment.