Thursday night the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners will consider whether to pay North Carolina $10,000 for the state’s N.C. Department of Commerce to promote the city as a certified retirement community.
The idea is that before the state will advertise such a community, that city must meet certain criteria as it regards infrastructure, such as adequate medical facilities or other amenities of particular interest to retirees.
Once a community meets those requirements, and forks over the ten grand, the state will include it in special promotions aimed at retirees.
While we like the idea of the state putting together a list of infrastructure and other development sought by this segment of the population, and then marketing those communities which meet the requirements, we have a problem with the fee.
The N.C. Department of Commerce is a taxpayer-funded organization in existence, at least in part, to support North Carolina localities as they seek to grow economically. Why does Mount Airy have to pay an extra fee for this department to simply do its job?
We’re also concerned about what happens when a number of other localities jump on the bandwagon. By most accounts Mount Airy may be among the first state localities to join the effort, so it’s reasonable to assume the city will see some return on this investment. Down the road, however, when a dozen, 15, maybe 20 or more localities join up, will all of those localities dilute the results?
Scott Graham, a commissioner who heads a committee which explored the plan and now is recommending the city join the program, said if the city sees just two people move here as a result of participating, Mount Airy will earn back its $10,000 investment through taxes and other fees on those two new residents.
While that might be optimistic, he is right in principle — surely the economic effect of just a handful of folks moving to Mount Airy would offset the cost within a year or two.
We suggest the city strongly consider following the committee’s recommendation and joining for a year, and spend that year learning as much as possible about how the state is marketing Mount Airy as a retirement community. Then we urge the city to just as strongly to consider using those lessons perhaps go on its own in these efforts.