As the Mississippi Gulf Coast Retiree Partnership marks 20 years of attracting relocating retirees to the area, the organization has another reason to celebrate. Gulfport/Biloxi was recognized by a national publication, Where to Retire, as a Top Retirement Destination in its May/June issue. For Marcia Crawford, director of the Retiree Partnership, the acknowledgement comes as no surprise. It’s something she’s always believed, and why she and her husband moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2004.
“Our incredible weather, the affordable cost of living and abundance of fun, fulfilling activities are among the reasons our area is so attractive to relocating retirees,” says Crawford. These characteristics are what she uses to market the Coast as a Certified Retirement Destination in publications and at out-of-state tradeshows.
In addition to the traditional marketing efforts, the Retiree Partnership has a network of volunteers, known as Hometown Ambassadors, who share their own relocation stories and promote the Coast to visitors as a “permanent vacation.” They set up at visitors centers, participate in local events and establish relationships with prospects through personalized touches like handwritten follow-up notes. Crawford says the ambassadors are among the organization’s most valuable assets. “They are walking testimonials; warm, welcoming faces that represent what the Retiree Partnership is all about.”
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Retiree Partnership is affiliated with the Mississippi Development Authority’s official retiree attraction program, Hometown Mississippi Retirement, and has a Seal of Approval from the American Association of Retirement Communities. The Retiree Partnership is sponsored by the Harrison County Development Commission (HCDC). HCDC Executive Director Bill Hessell says the Retiree Partnership’s program of work goes hand-in-hand with that of HCDC. “Retirees increase our tax base and strengthen the retail sector; many of them reenter the workforce, often bringing an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a wide variety of skill sets.”
Retirees also enjoy volunteering, says Crawford. “They are willing, responsible and ready to help. Our ambassadors are a shining example of this. They bring so much to our Coast, and we are lucky to have them.”
Gary Chouest, CEO
Edison Chouest Offhsore
“As we have already learned in the operation of our Gulf Ship facility, the Gulfport region will provide us access to a quality workforce. We appreciate the cooperation and support of the local officials who are providing a business friendly environment to grow our company.”