Rough economy hits Erickson

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Well, it seems we are in a financial crisis. I know I’m in the news business and should be up on these things. You might agree, though, that economic trends are hard to grasp unless you’ve felt them firsthand.

It hit home this week when Erickson Retirement Communities, a major development company for continuing care retirement communities, said that it was laying off some full- and part-time positions—at least 260—in the areas of construction, development, and support functions such as information technology, human resources, finance and marketing.

It attributed the layoffs to challenging and tumultuous U.S. financial markets.

“Like many leading organizations, we have witnessed and successfully managed to the ups and downs in the real estate development industry over the years. However, what has occurred in the past four months is admittedly unprecedented,” CEO Rick Grindrod said.

There you have it: The troubled economy strikes. (Ironically, this move comes after “Fortune” magazine ranked Erickson Retirement Communities last year as among “The 100 Best Companies to Work For.”)

Thankfully, none of the eliminated positions are direct resident care and service positions. Still, it doesn’t take away from the fear and insecurity that such a move generates—both inside the company and throughout the industry. After all, if it happened at Erickson …

But fortunately other signs portend financial promise for the industry. Take a story that appeared in “Investopedia” online this week. (To see the story, click here.) Ben McClure, who is director of McClure & Co., an independent research consultancy, recommended that investors consider long-term care stocks because of our rapidly aging demographic. Also, President-elect Obama’s plans to widen healthcare insurance could expand demand even more, he noted.

This is reason to take heart. Long-term care is not going away. It might take a beating in the short-term, but it is here to stay.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.