Economic development — and worries about the stability of the island’s tourism-based economy — dominated Town Council discussions during Hilton Head’s annual goal-setting retreat this fall.

As the council was setting its agenda for the upcoming year, debate about how to keep the island fresh economically and physically overshadowed the workshop. The council wants to find new methods to facilitate the re-use of old buildings, in addition to looking at new avenues to push the economy forward, town manager Steve Riley said. In the wake of news that Verizon was pulling its sponsorship from the island’s signature golf tournament, the town said it wants to focus on attracting new industries or activities to bolster fnancial health for businesses and residents. A large part of the island’s economy used to be real estate and housing construction; but those engines have cooled as the island approaches build-out.

finance

This past year will go down in history as the year in which the Wall Street financial crisis became a Main Street nightmare. Real estate values plunged; more than a fifth of all American homeowners now owe more than their home is worth.

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Buying local is a way to support the community

“Buying local” isn’t just good for the local economy. It’s also good for the community as a whole.

“Shopping local keeps the money local,” said Martin Goodman, regional director for the University of South Carolina Beaufort Small Business Development Center. “It creates jobs and wealth in the Lowcountry. It keeps businesses in business and it keeps people employed.”

Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, seconded that concept. “Buying local means tax dollars stay in our community and benefit our community,” she said. “It also means job sustenance and creation. We live and work in this community and it benefits all of us to buy local whenever possible.”

Buying local is a way to support the community

Buying local is a way to support the community“Buying local” isn’t just good for the local economy. It’s also good for the community as a whole.

“Shopping local keeps the money local,” said Martin Goodman, regional director for the University of South Carolina Beaufort Small Business Development Center. “It creates jobs and wealth in the Lowcountry. It keeps businesses in business and it keeps people employed.”

Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, seconded that concept. “Buying local means tax dollars stay in our community and benefit our community,” she said. “It also means job sustenance and creation. We live and work in this community and it benefits all of us to
buy local whenever possible.”

Discounts, special promotions are directed at visitors and locals

Bailouts. Stimulus. The stock market. It’s hard to go anywhere these days and not hear about the state of the economy.

The good news is many businesses are listening and acknowledging that consumers are spending differently. When they do spend, it’s deals and discounts that lure them in. For instance, many business are offering deals through M Specials in this magazine (see page 18).

“Residents and visitors alike are looking for value now more than ever,” said Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

South Carolina and Beaufort County are no strangers to the waves of relocating retirees, the kind that settled Hilton Head Island 50 years ago and have filled in communities from the island to the mainland.

But, according to the Center for Carolina Living, a group that researches and publishes information on retirement trends, the retirement market could still be an untapped resource of economic development for the area.

About 74 million baby boomers are starting to think about retirement, and as much as 27 percent of them — a record high — say they are willing to relocate during retirement, said Patrick Mason, co-founder of the Center for Carolina Living, which produces publications, conducts research and does advocacy work to push the state as the ideal place to retire.

Local businesses offer special needs high school students real-world experience

Bluffton High School students stuff envelopes for Hilton Head Monthly as part of a community work program.Riley Lewis glows and a huge smile spreads across his face when he talks about his work helping stuff, label and seal thousands of envelopes for Hilton Head Monthly. “They said we did good!” the 19-year-old Bluffton High School special needs student said.

Riley is one of approximately 30 students who took part in BHS’ Community Based Instruction program during the 2008-09 school year. The program is intended to give Beaufort County’s special needs high school students real-world experience at local businesses.

English Brown, the school’s job coach, coordinates the BHS program. “The students have a sense of, ‘I’ve really accomplished something,’ when they’ve finished a job,” said Brown. “The other side is getting them out into the community and letting the general community see that these people are productive and valuable.”

Builders praise report that says new homes have positive impact

Study: Growth has ripple effectBUILDERS IN BEAUFORT COUNTY have sometimes found themselves maligned as public boogey monsters, blamed for contributing to over-development and adding too much burden on the area’s fragile roads.

But this summer, builders are arming themselves with a new report that aims to dispel some of the myths of new home construction, and give the county’s home builders data that show the exact impact they have on the area’s economy.

The Hilton Head Area Home Builders Association commissioned a study earlier this year from an economist at the National Association of Home Builders to look at exactly how much impact fees, tax revenue, jobs and ripple-effect impact is created by each new home that’s built in Beaufort County in one year.

Health care facilities are addressing growth in Southern Beaufort County

Health care facilities are addressing growth in Southern Beaufort CountyAfter 11 successful years as a physician in his home state of Indiana, Dr. Stephen Luther gave up a prestigious hospital post to start a primary care practice at the newly opened Beaufort Memorial Bluffton Medical Services.

For the first 12 months, the board-certified doctor worked out of a small office and one exam room. Today, he’s seeing patients in a new medical suite that is part of a major expansion of the Bluffton center.

The 8,000-square-foot addition, which was completed earlier this year, provided enough space for a rehabilitation center for physical, occupational and speech therapy, a large waiting room and a dozen exam rooms. Luther and his staff share their new digs with the staff of Beaufort OB/GYN Associates.

Longtime Porcupine owner has prospered, even in tough times

Avis Rollison: Fashionable FixtureWhen the economy was slumping in 1976, just as now, Avis Rollison and her thenhusband bought the Porcupine Craft Shop, a gift store in Coligny Plaza. Rollison, who had moved from her native New England, worked days at the gift shop and nights at a restaurant. Those early entrepreneurial days were lean ones, even for a resilient 20-something.

“It was so bad,” Rollison recalled. “We sold both our cars and rode bikes to work.”

Back then, the island had relatively little development compared to now, which had created an area of pioneers. “In the ‘70s, you had to make a job,” she said.