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Working in Retirement

Innovative retirees behind entrepreneurial boom

Many Americans have been left struggling after the recession, and a number of baby boomers have decided to take things into their own hands by starting their own businesses and becoming entrepreneurs. A study by the Kaufmann Institute has found that Americans age 55 to 64 are the most likely to start new companies.

Chuck Salley, 69, decided to spend his own retirement working in the exciting new field of biofuels. While he retired early after a career in sales and marketing, he is now the president of a fledgling company.

"Some people are doing it for the same reason I did it," he told The Associated Press. "They tried early retirement and found themselves unsuccessful. Some are doing it because they didn't early retire by choice and are considering entrepreneurship as an alternative."

Nowhere is that more evident than at TechTown, a business incubator of Detroit's Wayne State University meant to help people accelerate the growth of new businesses. Salley is using the organization's valuable services, as are many of his peers. Nearly one-third of the participants in the program are older than 46.

For the past two years, Ronna Rivers, 58, has been using TechTown as a base for her own company, Rivers Conservation and Preservation Services. She works to restore literature and art pieces to paper and it seems that the economic downturn may have been the one of her biggest sources of inspiration.

For its part, Wayne State University is adapting to the fact that there may be more people than just college students on campus.

"We've got to focus on this baby boomer generation as much as the kids out of college dorms eating Ramen noodles," Techtown executive director Randall Charlton told the news source. "We've set up a series of programs to talk to baby boomers about their second acts. We feel we are going to be training as many [boomers]... as young people." 

Some residents of Del Webb retirement communities are also running their businesses. Jerry Axton spends his retirement at Sun City Festival while simultaneously managing the affairs of his handmade furniture company. For his part, Axton doesn't want to sit still. 

"Doing nothing doesn't sound very exciting," he told CBS News.

Many Del Webb communities take into account that homeowners may still be working, and offer a setting that accommodates the needs of residents who are pursuing encore careers with business centers, and later hours at fitness clubs and other facilities. Many are partnered with universities where residents can learn about new subjects that can help advance their newest ambition. 

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