Since 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.
2. Natural beauty
Having personally travelled up and down the East Coast and crisscrossed from coast to coast on numerous occasions, I can attest that there are only a few places in North America that can rival the beautiful surroundings we live in.
Granted, we had a miserable winter by our own standards, but all is relative. In comparison to road-blocking snowstorms, it wasn’t so bad. We only had to cancel tennis on three occasions due to rain or cold. Only 100 miles north of here, winters will feel a lot colder. You will have to travel south of Vero Beach to find warmer weather.
4. Geographic location and accessibility
Direct flights from SAV now include 13 major destinations: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Memphis, Miami, NYC, Newark, Philadelphia and Washington. Within driving distance we can access three growing metropolitan areas — Atlanta, Charlotte and Jacksonville. We can escape to acres and acres of nature in the rural areas of South Carolina and the charms of the mountains of North Carolina. We are nestled between the two most historic and architecturally beautiful cities in the south — Charleston and Savannah. With the widening of U.S. 17, access is becoming easier than ever.
5. Growing economic diversity
We still heavily depend on the two main drivers of our economy -- tourism and retirement. But new trends are emerging. Young people and families in their prime choose the Lowcountry as their nesting grounds. They bring with them their talents, ideas and energy; combined with the ability to work remotely, this will create a more diversified economic picture and will drive the median age down. The Don Ryan Center for Innovation (also referred to as Bluffton incubator) is just one example of how the region is actively trying to cultivate a spirit of entrepreneurship and make it part of what will drive the future.
6. Savannah hosts 12 million visitors a year
Savannah’s relatively recent surge as a major getaway destination will have a trickle-down effect for our regions as millions of people who haven fallen in love with the “Southern Charm” will be looking for a different experience and/or consider a longer vacation.
7. Cultural, recreational and educational choices
It was only 10 years ago when our choices were very fairly limited when it came to active sports, cultural and educational choices. No longer so. Regardless of what you want to learn or do or experience, chances are you can find an event, a place or club, a class or a teacher to make it happen.
8. The maker and local movement
Tired of the cheaply mass produced and imported stuff, there is a resurgence of “do it yourself and sell it” going on all over America, and the Lowcountry is a fertile ground for such endeavors. You would be amazed of all the interesting products that are produced right here or within a 100 mile radius (this will be subject of a future article in Monthly).
9. 10,000 baby boomers a day retire
Yes, these are the official statistics and it will continue at this pace for almost two decades (begging the question if it will bankrupt Social Security). The profile of the typical retiree however has changed. Not only will they live longer, they are vibrant, still wanting to change the world and become an important part of the fabric of our community, bringing with them not only their assets, but experience, connections and in some cases attract the following generation to move here as well.
10. Welcoming people and intellectual diversity
Many people tell me that one of the reasons they have chosen the Lowcountry as their place of choice is because we are a very welcoming community attracting a wide variety of people who have lived all over the world before moving here, which simply makes it a more interesting place to live than many.
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