Are We Ready for Retirees?

We all know that South Dakota is a wonderful place to retire. The people at MoneyRates.com know that too (via Reimagine Rural). They recently published a list of the 10 best retirement states and SD ranked third best in the nation (Richard Barrington, “10 Best States to Retire,” MoneyRates.com). SD ranks below New Hampshire and Hawaii and just above North Dakota.

Why did SD rank so high on the list? MoneyRates.com ranked the states on the following criteria: economics, climate, crime rate, and life expectancy. Our state did very well in economics and crime rate due to our low cost of living and lack of crime. Climate was our weak point but we still fared better than states like ND.

How does this information relate to economic development? Attracting retirees to our area would certainly impact our population, our housing market, our business community, and our city’s sales tax income. The members of the baby boom generation are nearing retirement age and that presents an exciting opportunity for those communities that are ready.

This is interesting information but the real question is, “Would people really retire to SD?” A study from the USDA Department of Agriculture provides some insights into answering that question. The study describes that baby boomers increasingly want to retire in rural and small-town destinations (Cromartie and Nelson, “Baby Boom Migration and Its Impact on Rural America”, 2009). That is good news because we fit the bill perfectly.

Many of the pieces are already in place to make Hand County an attractive area for retirees. However, it will require a community-wide focus to successfully draw retirees here. On Hand Development, our city councils, and county commissioners will need to actively work toward this goal. Our business community, service organizations, faith institutions, and health care facilities all have part to play too. By working together, we can take hold of this opportunity and ensure the long-term vitality of our communities and county.

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Is the Census Important for Miller?

Paperwork and I have a love/hate relationship. I love to ignore it and hate to fill it out. The 2010 Census is different. It takes just 10 minutes to fill out and it only comes around once every 10 years. That is my kind of paperwork.

Thinking about the census brings up a couple of questions. Is the census important for Miller? Why is it important? Here are a few answers from the official census website:

  • The federal government uses population data to allocate funds in a number of areas including Title 1 grants to school districts, the WIC program, public transportation (think about the Miller Wheels and Meals), road rehabilitation and construction, and programs for the elderly.
  • Census data helps homeowners research property values, median income, and other demographic information about a particular community.
  • Corporations use population data to determine locations for commercial enterprises such as food stores, pharmacies, and other essential services.

The census really lays the groundwork for the next ten years. As a community, it will help us make decisions in government, education, health care, economic development, business planning and many other areas.

When the form comes out in April please take the time to fill it out and return it.

In 2000, Hand County only had a response rate of 70%. The average response rate for counties in SD was 74%. I bet we can do better than that this time around.

I’m really curious to see how the numbers will turn out for Miller and Hand County. Even though it is a little more paperwork to fill out, I’ll be filling out my census form and I hope you will too.