Cookeville-Putnam County earns national Seal of Approval

Photo: Cookeville-Putnam County representatives accept American Association of Retirement Communities’ Seal of Approval Award. From left are Melanie Beauchamp, director of outreach & engagement, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development; Ramay Winchester, director of tourism initiatives, TDTD; Zach Ledbetter, vice president of visitor development, Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau; Molly Brown, director of public relations & marketing, CPCVB; Rachel Baker, 2018 Chair, AARC; and Wade Adler, executive director, AARC.

AARC recognizes best places to retire in the U.S.

 COOKEVILLE – A top Tennessee retiree destination, Cookeville-Putnam County has again achieved national recognition, receiving the coveted 2018 Seal of Approval Award by the American Association of Retirement Communities during their annual conference last week in Daytona Beach, Fla.

As the nation’s leading organization in educating and inspiring communities to attract retirees, AARC deemed Cookeville-Putnam County one of the best places to retire in the country. The Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau serves as the marketing arm for retiree recruitment as well as visitor development in Putnam County.

Vice President of Visitor Development Zach Ledbetter and Director of Public Relations and Marketing Molly Brown attended the three-day conference to receive the prestigious award while also participating in educational seminars and networking sessions among destinations and developers from 14 states and Canada.

The Seal of Approval honor is presented annually to recipients from across the U.S. that demonstrate a cutting-edge commitment to attract retirees through lifestyle programming, amenity development, communication programs and education. Award winners are evaluated by a national panel of retirement destinations experts on a variety of criteria, including health care, retiree-appropriate housing, lifestyle amenities, adult education, recreational and cultural opportunities and governmental and private support of retiree-focused programs.

“As we continue to build our marketing strategies for both travel inspiration and retiree relocations, it offers great pride to be recognized by AARC for the work being done in our community to create a desirable destination,” said Ledbetter. “As retirees are estimated to visit a community three to five times before making a decision to relocate, it is a natural fit for our organization to target this demographic.”

Putnam County has become an ideal location to visit and to retire. Retirees become “permanent tourists,” according to Ledbetter, seeking a well-positioned location with easy access to large, metro areas and an international airport, access to premier healthcare, and a low cost of living. No state income tax, four mild seasons, extensive outdoor recreation and community-focused amenities are also desired among today’s retiree.

Noted as one of the best retiree communities in the state, Cookeville-Putnam County has been highlighted by Retire Tennessee since the program’s inception in 2007 under the direction of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. Now a program of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, Retire Tennessee partners with communities like Cookeville-Putnam County to target active, quality retirees seeking a community in which to thrive.

Cookeville-Putnam County has most recently been featured in Where to Retire Magazine and named a “Best Small Town” in retiree magazine Ideal Living’s 2017 Best-of-the-Best.

The AARC, established in 1994, is a nonprofit group that encourages communities to make their areas desirable for retirees – and promotes the significant, positive economic impact that population can have in an area. For more information on AARC, go to

For more information about retiree recruitment in Cookeville-Putnam County, contact Zach Ledbetter at or go to


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