marcfrey150

By now, most of our readers have picked up on the feud between Skip Hoagland and the Hilton Head Island–Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. Hoagland has been taking out full-page ads in the local newspaper to draw public attention to what he claims is “Chamber abuse.”

I would pay money to see a presidential-style debate between self-made entrepreneur Skip Hoagland and Chamber President Bill Miles—especially if it would be followed by a boxing match.

marcfrey150By now everybody has heard of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that is spreading across the country, inspiring such offshoots as “Occupy Boston,” “Occupy Charleston,” etc.

According to its various websites, the “occupy movement” is representing 99 percent of Americans, claiming that the other one percent is holding the majority of the money and the power. Not surprisingly, the 400 richest Americans, according to Forbes, have had an “amazing year” while the rest of us have grown poorer. The political process and those who represent it are not offering any comfort, because instead of offering real solutions and actions, the two parties block each other and “Main Street” is paying the price.

Let’s face it; 2011 has not been the most stellar year on record for most of us.

As a I write this column, it has become official that the “super committee” can’t agree on how to reduce the American household deficit, Europe has the financial markets on the edge, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement has spread around the country, the NBA season is on hold, your neighbor’s house is in foreclosure and you have not had a raise in three years. The list could be expanded endlessly…

Hiltomarc_freyn Head has an opportunity to establish a real town center — but it’ll take everyone’s cooperation.

Every community has its pivotal moments, times when it must make fundamental decisions that will affect its evolution for years to come.

marc_freyYou know that desperate feeling you get when you realize you’ll be pressed right up until the last minute to fulfill a deadline?

Unless you are disciplined enough to let an electronic agenda dictate every hour of your life, you know what I’m talking about. The “last minute call” is an inside joke at Monthly referring to yours truly about when I fail to deliver my column in a timely manner, despite the constant reminders of our talented and organized editor.

A “last minute call” is also how I would describe the circumstances under which we secured RBC as a title sponsor for the Heritage literally days before a looming deadline. I don’t know about you, but all of a sudden I feel this special connection to all things Canadian, so in celebration of our new title sponsor, I decided to compile a good-natured list of five things Canadians are doing better right now:

  1. They keep alive the cultural heritage of their ancestors.
  2. They don’t try to fix foreign countries.
  3. They don’t depend on foreign energy ?sources.
  4. They know how to throw a party.
  5. They saved the Heritage.


All joking aside, I’m jubilant for the fact that the Heritage has been given a second life, but at the same time I would like to see us use this close call as a wake-up call. Unless we want to relive this period of extended uncertainty (even though we can breathe out now) we should start now the process of securing a sponsor for 2017 — which will be here before we know it. I truly hope that we won’t simply return to the idea that everything is perfectly fine now, because there’s still a great deal of work to be done.

I do apologize for constantly using this space to sound an alarm bell, but the fact remains that we have much to accomplish in the next five years if we want to avoid having to be bailed out via a last-minute call. We have to fix our infrastructure, our image and our marketing message, and we have to create a culture of excellence in every respect when we receive a new sponsor, visitor, business or neighbor.

Many people believe that the best times to be here in Hilton Head are spring and fall, but most of our visitor dollars (which represent 2/3 of our economy) are made during the 12 weeks of summer. There must be a better way to sell our best seasons — and that task requires the same type of re-thinking and rejuvenation that will lead us back to the path of success.


Keep on the sunny side

Meanwhile, does anyone remember six-month recessions? The ones with the short, steep dips and quick recoveries? These days we’re bogged instead by a two-year drought, which has been followed by a miserly recovery. It’s no wonder that many of us feel tired and burned out, but now is not the time to be complacent. Quite the opposite: Now is exactly the time to summon your last resources of energy and optimism — the ones you didn’t know you had — because better days are ahead of us, and as the Heritage deal proves, we’re digging ourselves out of it.

If you want to get out of the doom-and-gloom mood here are a few tips:

Do you wake up and go to bed with CNN, Fox or MSNBC? Stop the noise and fear-mongering and seek the truth. Are your only friends the ones you have on Facebook? Close the computer and talk to a neighbor. Are you discouraged that Apple only employs 50,000 people in the U.S. but a millions in China? Be proud instead that every BMW X3 (the company’s best-selling SUV) worldwide is being produced in the upstate in Spartanburg. Are you tired of bipartisan bickering? Stop listening and go vote when the time comes. Are you discouraged about your own situation? Go out and help somebody that is worse off than you. Reality is what we make of it and for every piece of negative information we can so often find a positive counterpart!

Upwards!

 

Email: mfrey@freymedia.com

 

marc_freyIn my last column I asked readers to comment on the future of our community, which is of great concern right now. At the time this issue went to press there was still no official word about the Heritage. At the same time we learned that we’re in danger of losing the last commercial airline service to Hilton Head Island: US Airways is contemplating cutting off its service to Charlotte.

While these two incidents are only a small part of what drives our economy and quality of life, they are symbolically very significant because they signal that this region may be falling from its elite status.

It is evident that we need to come up with a long-term plan to revive our image and the quality of the user experience for residents and visitors alike. The ideas need to go much further than merely cutting a few trees at the landing strip and extending the runway. We should look at this as important opportunity to ask ourselves what type of community we want to be. There are many great possibilities, but most of them revolve on the following central themes: nature, learning, sports and arts, which all have an element of discovery at their core.

Here are some other suggestions from our readers, as gathered in our online poll: