Marketer touts region to retirees at Chicago real estate show

Rick Wagner • Jan 29, 2007 at 11:06 AM

BLOUNTVILLE - A local economic development official says a weekend Chicago real estate show generated good leads on at least 180 people who plan to retire or relocate to Tennessee.

In addition, a new Web site encouraging people to relocate to Sullivan County successfully launched Friday, coinciding with the release of brochures promoting the region and the Web site at the Chicago show.

Jeanette Scalf, director of marketing and communications for the NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership, attended the Live South Real Estate Show Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Scalf, who attended the conference with officials from three other Tennessee communities in the Retire Tennessee pilot program, said about 1,000 people came through the show.

"Eighteen percent of those in attendance at the Chicago show were interested in Tennessee, and 30 percent were interested in either Tennessee or the mountains and lakes as opposed to being in the coastal area," Scalf said Monday after returning from Chicago late Sunday night.

Those who fill out a postage-paid questionnaire in the brochure will receive mailings from NETWORKS, as well as the Bristol and Kingsport chambers of commerce, she said.

The event drew representatives of Grande Harbor, a gated community under way near Tri-Cities Regional Airport on Boone Lake, as well as other developments in East Tennessee like Rarity Bay and Tellico Village.

Also attending were Rick Meredith, Tennessee's assistant commissioner of economic and community development, and Ramay Winchester, who heads up the Retire Tennessee pilot program.

Winchester said while open to the public, the show mostly draws from invitations sent to affluent people in their late 40s or early 50s getting ready to retire and relocate.

Economic development, tourism and chamber of commerce officials from four Tennessee communities attended. The four were Sullivan, Henry, Lawrence and Putnam counties.

At the next Live South show, scheduled for March 2-4 in Detroit, representatives from the other five pilot program communities are to attend. They are Cumberland, Greene, Hamilton, Hardin and Marshall counties.

Of the nine communities in the Retire Tennessee program, Sullivan is the only one emphasizing both retirement and relocation.

Brochures Scalf gave out during the Chicago show tout Sullivan County and its cities and promote the www.movetonortheasttn.com Web site, which acts as a portal. It also directs people to the www.movetokingsport.com and www.movetobristol.org Web sites, as well as to the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association Web site and two other Web sites for newcomers.

For more information on NETWORKS go to www.networkstn.com. For more information on the Live South shows go to www.livesouthshows.com. For more information on Retire Tennessee go to www.retiretennessee.org.

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