LORI GOODRIDGE-CRIBBOur name is the Lowcountry, and it’s no secret: We’re petaholics. It seems everywhere you turn, you see somebody with a dog, cat or other animal.

They’re frolicking at the beach, lounging on restaurant patios, prancing around the park and strolling down bike paths.

Hilton Head Island and Bluffton people love their animals, and why not? Studies have shown pets can add years to our lives.

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marcfrey-soccerUnless you have been living under a rock you know that the 2014 soccer World Cup is in full swing in Brazil.

More than 200 nations compete for a spot for the final 32 teams that make the World Cup qualifications held every four years. The 2014 draw contains soccer superpowers such as Brazil and Italy, tiny countries such as Costa Rica and Ivory Coast and countries one might not expect such as Iran and South Korea.

It’s easy to understand why soccer is the world’s most played and most watched sport. It is the one sport that most closely mirrors real life. It’s full of drama, surprises and injustice. It requires in equal measures a plan and improvisation. It takes a team of 11 players to win; yet outstanding individual contributions make the difference. One moment it can be so exhilarating, whipping a whole nation into a frenzy. The next moment, the mood can swing the other way.

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LORI GOODRIDGE-CRIBBWhere I grew up in Ohio, fresh fish was not something you could just order off a menu. You could get trucked-in fish from places such as Red Lobster, Captain D’s or Long John Silver’s, but it wasn’t particularly fresh and it certainly wasn’t local.

Eating fresh-caught seafood here was one of our many family vacation highlights. For decades, local chefs have taken advantage of our coastal waters, serving boat-totable cobia, red fish, flounder, sheepshead and more.

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marcfrey150Most of our readers chose to make Hilton Head Island their ZIP code …. or did it choose them?

Sure there are a few rational reasons like the climate, reasonable taxes and low crime rates, but the same qualities are true for many other small towns. Yet there is something in our subconscious that brought us here and attracted people from across the U.S. and the world.

When Charles Fraser first conceived Sea Pines, he thought green before the word green stood for sustainable and not just the color of grass. His vision was to incorporate the beauty of nature into the everyday life experience of its inhabitants and create a human-scaled community in harmony with its environment. He would say, “Respect the things that were here before we came.” In doing so he laid the foundation of what makes our island so unique.

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lori-juneThe visitors have officially returned. Look around and you will notice parking lots full of license plates from Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and New York.

A few years ago, USC-Beaufort headed up a survey to see where our annual visitors were coming from. Atlanta finished No. 1, followed by New York City, Washington D.C., Charlotte and Chicago. Augusta, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Cleveland were also well represented.

Families from those cities pass many vacation destinations on their way here. We should never take that for granted.

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marcfrey150According to Michael Porter (a Harvard business professor, capitalist and registered republican) it’s time to ditch the GDP per capita as the sole measure of well being for a country and pay more attention to the Social Progress Index that measures the livability of all its citizen and is a more comprehensive indicator of well being than the average income per person.

Before analyzing our disappointing ranking of 16th among 132 countries that were included in the study I want to point out why social progress is important: “Social well-being is the foundation of a peaceful, democratic, capitalist society. It is the philosophical foundation on which our nation was built: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all not a few.”

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moneyreport“Smart beta” has become A hot topic in the financial world. It has certainly captured the interest of investors, underwriters and brokers.

According to Morningstar, a quarter of all exchange-traded fund investments in the first 11 months of 2013, over $41 billion, went into funds using smart beta strategies.

So what exactly is “smart beta?” It’s a concept used rather broadly to describe alternate investment strategies, which, proponents claim, address the shortcomings of both traditional managed mutual funds, and unmanaged index fund investments. Not all smart beta strategies are alike, so here’s a brief overview.

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lori-musicMove over Eric Clapton. With my guitar, I just may hop on the next midnight train out of town. Forget mortgage payments, phone bills and job responsibilities — I’ve got places to go and blues to sing.

Just two problems. Problem 1: I’ve never seen a train on Hilton Head.

Problem 2: I have absolutely no idea of how to play this thing. For some people, music comes naturally. I’m not one of those people. In fact, one could argue I don’t have a musical bone in my body.

I took voice lessons when I was in grade school. My sister Debi could sing so I figured I should be able to sing as well. After my very first recital, my parents decided to replace the voice lessons with art lessons.

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marcfrey150Since I’m in a forecasting mood, I took a look at what the future may hold for our own region. It’s not just one thing that will cause the continuous expansion of our region but a number of things that will work in synchronicity.

1. Peace of mind

As the world around us seems to get more turbulent, there is something very reassuring about living in Bluffton, Hilton Head or anywhere in between Beaufort and Savannah. Our world in the Lowcountry seems pretty darn normal, and for once, that is a really good thing.

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lori-blog-apr14April is such a magical month in the Lowcountry. For me, it means I can plant my herb garden, take my beach chairs out of storage and get my deck ready for entertaining. Most of all, it means Heritage!

As always, Monthly celebrates Hilton Head Island’s biggest event with a special issue dedicated to all facets of this amazing local event.

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marcfrey150Can a company, which was started in 2009, has 55 employees and no revenues be worth $19 billion dollars? The answer is YES, and NO depending on how you look at it.

For traditional thinking investors, this valuation defies everything we thought we knew about how to value a company. As a comparison, companies with similar market valuation include: HJ Heinz, CBS, Yahoo!, PG&E, Charles Schwab, Marathon Oil, Allstate, Kellogg, T. Rowe Price, Sun Trust to name a few. Mostly companies with strong brands that have been around for a long time and have a proven track record.

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moneyreportAfter a gut wrenching recession, and the collapse of a property bubble that had concentrat ed the small county’s wealth into a highly leveraged real estate sector, Ireland, theCeltic Tiger, was forced to ask for a bailout in 2012, as well as to adopt a painful EU mandat ed austerity budget.

However, there are signs of a turnaround; in 2013 the Irish stock market gained 35.2%, making it the fifth best performing market in the world (the U.S. was ninth.) While it’s still early days, there may be worthwhile opportunity for investors to consider as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this month.

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lori-blog-mar14Each morning on my way to work I pass the life-size, bronze statue at Compass Rose Park called, “Walking the Alligator.” As many locals know, the statue is a reproduction of a 1962 photo of Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser that was published in the Saturday Evening Post.

The statue speaks to Fraser’s vision — how careful planning and strict covenants can create a livable community that time does not change. We live in a community where bike paths, homes, landscaping, development and landscaping all work in harmony to preserve natural beauty.

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marcfrey150As of January 2014, 20 million more people were on food stamps compared to 2007. The total number of recipients is now around 47 million, more than 15 percent of the population. The SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) is just one of many federal and state supported programs. I merely chose this one to drive home my point.

Granted, we lived through the second worst depression in modern U.S. economic history, but since then the economy has been making progress and unemployment figues have come down. Unfortunately, the amount of money spent on social welfare keeps climbing. The cost of the SNAP program is now 2 1/2 times higher ($74 billion) compared to 2007 ($30 billion). How can this be fied?

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