The Boomers Are Coming! The Boomers Are Coming!

I sometimes feel like a middle-aged Paul Revere.

Rather than taking a midnight ride warning the Massachusetts colonists of the movement of British troops, I am continually alerting my fellow Tampa Bay Creatives of the imminent arrival of tens of thousands of Yankee boomers to the region. And they are coming en masse over the next 10 years.

But instead of being greeted with either glee or alarm, my urgent message has mostly garnered shrugs and yawns from many in regional creative circles.

What virtually every major American metro area really wants is “The Young & the Restless.” These are 25- to 34-year-olds with MBAs, MAs, Ph.D.s and MFAs, and young bodies that do not require much costly medical intervention to keep them hopping. Local governments and foundations hire world-renowned consultants to help corral this coveted cohort.

It is widely assumed by economic development experts like Dr. Richard Florida that people in this young “creative class” are the new spark plugs who can rev up a sputtering economic engine. To add to their attractiveness, these clever and energetic young people love to spend money on the arts, gladly interact with people different from them and will remain economically competitive well into their mid-50s.

I don’t know if this vision of the creative economy will come to pass in the Tampa Bay area. There are simply are too many unknowns to hazard definitive forecasts. Imponderables include a collapse of housing and mortgage markets, inadequate public funding for education and infrastructure, and a really bad hurricane season.

What nonpartisan researchers do know right now is this:

The Tampa Bay area is one of the top destinations for soon-to-be-retiring boomers. This massive demographic migration from North to South will generate both considerable economic growth and problems.

The boomers comprise roughly 77 million Americans from age 44 to 62. They will soon be selling homes that most of them have owned for many years; accepting substantial corporate buyouts and retirement packages; and benefiting from inheritances from their parents’ estates.

Boomers are generally portrayed and parodied in the mainstream media as self-centered, self-absorbed and self-indulgent yuppies (basically, Bill Clinton at his worst). Like most stereotypes, it ignores the characteristics of the majority of this gargantuan post-World-War II generation.

On the whole, boomers are well-educated and productive, creative and well-traveled. The spirit of adventure and a “whole Earth” outlook defines much of who they are.

Don’t expect the majority of boomers to just queue for the early-bird special at the all-you-can-eat buffet. This generation dramatically and drastically transformed (for better or worse) everything that they ever touched. And the boomer penchant for novelty and experimentation will continue into their “golden years” in the Tampa Bay area.

For additional insights into baby boomers and their influence, visit the Civic Ventures Web site, The site is subtitled, “Helping society achieve its greatest return on experience.”

Also, check out the reviews on Marc Freedman’s book, Prime Time: How Baby Boomers Will Revolutionize Retirement and Transform America.

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