For Immediate Release November 12, 2015
Fleming completes term as chair of American Association of Retirement Communities
HISTORIC CHARLESTON – Kingsport (TN) City Manager Jeff Fleming recently passed the torch as chair of the American Association of Retirement Communities in an annual conference that drew attendees from 13 states, Canada, and the District of Columbia.

This year’s topic, “A Year of Change, Renewal and Re-Imagination” was appropriately held in Historic Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston was dealt a seemingly insurmountable economic blow when the Naval Shipyard’s impending closure was announced in 1993. The Shipyard employed 8,000 at its peak. Mayor Joe Riley used this ‘date with the hangman’ to successfully focus on the city’s uniqueness and authenticity. In the process he became revered for his service and unwavering commitment by the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Today, Charleston is ranked as a top 5 U.S. destination city by international travelers alongside New York, Chicago, Las Vegas and Seattle.

Back in Tennessee, Fleming says his community sought inspiration from Mayor Riley. “When Kingsport faced a similar circumstance in 1994 with the spinoff of Eastman from Kodak, we used Charleston’s example to kick off a positive transformation of our own,” Fleming explained. “One of several strategies we used was the attraction of retirees with higher educational attainment and discretionary income for spending,” he added, “It’s a great supplemental economic development strategy.” He further explained that “residents start as visitors, so it is important to build your brand. It’s been an honor to tell the ‘Kingsport Story’ on a national stage.”

Unlike many other organizations, the AARC is an interdisciplinary group made up of government officials, chambers of commerce, tourism, real estate developers, economic developers, attorneys, economists […]