GREENVILLE, PITT COUNTY -

Some city leaders believe making Greenville a “certified retirement community” will help boost the local economy.

However, in order to attain that status, the city of Greenville must apply to the North Carolina Department of Commerce by January 2014.

Currently, there are only six communities in the state that are certified retirement communities -- and none of the communities are East of I-95, council member Calvin Mercer said.

Mercer believes retirees would help boost the economy because they would likely buy houses and contribute to local businesses.    

"We have the health care, the education, proximity to the coast and to the triangle, low cost of living, mild climate. Retirees bring financial resources to our community…They want a quality of life and they participate in our community,” Mercer said.

Mercer said it's a golden opportunity that Greenville needs to take advantage of.

“That would plug us into the North Carolina Department of Commerce marketing efforts,” he said.

People we talked with on campus and downtown had mixed reactions to the idea.

“I really don't think Greenville is a retirement community. We have a lot of young people out here with ECU. And there needs to be more culture more things to do for young people I guess,” Thomas Eigner said.

“Get some people here, get em' retiring here, get em' putting back into the community and into the economy…It’s a good thing because when we're done with school we go home. We go back to where we come from. So, if they're coming here to live it's a good thing,” ECU student, Julie Melton said.

“I don't think it will all always be senior related but I don't see why it wouldn't be an asset,” Sue Williams said.

A debate that will continue until Mercer puts the idea in front of the rest of the city council.

To be eligible for this certification, the city must be located within 30 miles of a hospital. In addition, the city must take steps to gain support from churches, clubs, businesses and the media.