Brevard - Homegrown Tools

Brevard, NC

Updated: 2022

Brevard capitalizes on the economic value of retirees, and not just as consumers. Local retirees assemble an award-winning network of “consultants,” who support new and existing businesses.

Median Household Income2020$37,878
Poverty Rate 202014.0%
Proximity to Urban Center 34 miles to Asheville, N.C.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 30 miles
Case Study Time Frame 2002-2007
Municipal Budget FY202135.3 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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Brevard is tapping into the business expertise within its retiree population as a tool for supporting local entrepreneurship. Over the past 10 years, Brevard has become a hot spot for baby-boomer retirees; over 60 percent of newcomers are retired. In 2002, this small mountain town’s economy hit a wall, though, with numerous plant closures and 2,200 job layoffs. At that time, Transylvania County economic development director Mark Burrows turned to some of the retirees on his advisory board for help. Their suggestion: create a network of retirees to help new and existing businesses prosper and expand. The resulting Retiree Resource Network is a collection of over 65 retired businesspeople who provide top quality consulting and advising services to the businesses of Brevard and Transylvania County free of charge. In 2007, the network won the outstanding county program award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners and has served as a model solution for rural communities with retirement communities.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Entrepreneurs need direct, customized assistance. This story demonstrates that small towns should seek innovative ways to provide individualized assistance to local entrepreneurs. General business training for entrepreneurs is a worthy first step in a local support strategy. Going beyond general issues into specific challenges facing a range of entrepreneurs is where small town leaders can add maximum value to their efforts. Every entrepreneur is different, and their needs vary enormously. Direct, customized assistance provided by Brevard’s Retiree Resource Network is one way to move local entrepreneurs toward being engines for job creation.


Retirees in small towns can be economic development assets. Brevard provides an excellent example of how retirees can be active in community life and economic development efforts. Often these retirees bring a professional expertise not common in small towns. In an era of global competition, such expertise is potentially invaluable to small town entrepreneurs. Small town leaders, especially those in towns receiving an influx of retirees, can look for ways to leverage the combined expertise of their new residents for community benefit. Brevard and Transylvania County have taken their local retiree network to the next level and are using the network as a differentiating service when marketing their community to new businesses.