Local officials are hoping the backward migration will pick up steam as baby boomers age. In 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau says, there were 3,921 Daviess Countians age 60 to 64. By 2008, the census estimates, there were 4,919. A decade ago, the census counted 6,701 people in the 65 to 74 bracket.
Eight years later, it estimated 7,007 in that category. Part of the increase is just people who have lived in Owensboro for years growing older. But part is the first wave of baby boomer exports coming home.
"We want to look at that market," Nick Brake, president of the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corp., said recently. "They bring a nest egg, Medicare payments and a disposable income."
"Retirees who move to the community are a form of economic development," said Jody Wassmer, president of the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce. "They bring perhaps a pension or retirement savings with them and that's new money coming into the community."
"Kentucky is going to be getting a lot of retirees from the rust belt states who want four seasons, but not quite as cold winters," Brake said.
Brake said Owensboro's amenities include the new hospital being planned for Owensboro's east side, a good health care system, a low cost of living and cheaper real estate than many cities.
"Many retirees make good part-time employees because they have a good work ethic," Wassmer said. "Owensboro is attractive to them because of the low crime rate, low cost of living and access to quality health care."
Kentucky lets people who are 65 and older -- or who are disabled -- deduct $33,700 from the value of their home for tax purposes as an incentive to keep people in the state when they retire.
"Retirees want a vibrant quality of life and higher education where they can take classes at reduced prices," Brake said. "Our low crime rate is a big plus," he said.
He said, "We're exploring targeting military retirees since we're close to both Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. One of our marketing techniques for the future will be recruiting people, not just companies."