The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, but most strikingly for the coronavirus pandemic. Amid this public health crisis, we know we must forge ahead on our journey through the next couple of decades.
To define that journey, we will turn to Our Plan, our new 2020 to 2040 comprehensive plan that is to be adopted this year.
Our Plan is foundational for the island’s growth and development. It provides a baseline of existing conditions and outlines our goals, strategies and tactics for the future. It will serve as a tool for town and community leaders to strengthen and preserve the island culture, image, character and unique sense of place.
Workforce housing is needed to help sustain a viable workforce for hospitality, healthcare, public safety, education, retail and other industries.
Ensuring that our Gullah Geechee community is preserved will help keep our island historically rich and diverse and give Gullah descendants the opportunity to share in keeping their culture alive. Our Lowcountry Celebration Park is one of the town’s largest undertakings and will be another town jewel.
Spearheaded by the S.C. Department of Transportation, the U. S. 278 Corridor Project will probably have the greatest impact on our community as improvements are made to the bridges and roads coming onto the island.
We know each of these issues will affect the future of our island, hopefully for the better. But, we’re counting on them to help us have best-in-class facilities and infrastructure for our residents.
Hilton Head Island Mayor
ENHANCING QUALITY OF LIFE
Here’s a quick snapshot of Bluffton. We are mostly a young, family-driven community, with 37 years old being Bluffton’s median age. Our 54-square-mile town is estimated to have about 24,000-27,000 residents. The median cost of a home is $266,200.
Despite this year’s economic fluctuations, new building construction remains robust. The Don Ryan Center for Innovation moved into its permanent 3,000-squarefoot facility in Buckwalter Place Commerce Park. It is providing free membership to any Bluffton business or individual for a year and continues to give students complimentary memberships. This is part of the town’s plan to help local businesses and entrepreneurs navigate this year’s unique challenges.
Next door is the Buckwalter Place Park, with its inclusive playground equipment as well as a quiet, reflective corner where the Bluffton Veterans Memorial resides.
The Martin Family Park is an open space, decorated with outdoor, wooden Adirondack chairs. The Wright Family Park and Calhoun Street Regional Dock offers residents a beautiful view and public access to the May River.
The town also recently acquired nearly 40 acres at the New Riverside Roundabout. This park is still in the design stages and will hopefully open in early 2021.
The town continues to install sanitary sewer, sidewalks and lighting to areas outside of planned communities which did not have pre-planned infrastructure.
Together, Town Council and staff members continue to strive to enhance our community’s high quality of life for all who live, work and visit Bluffton.
NEW JOBS WILL LEAD TO CAREER ADVANCEMENT
The future prosperity of Hardeeville lies in the growth of light industry, warehousing, and office space in the southern part of the city.
Within 10 years, Hardeeville will be home to over five million square feet of new warehouse space and a new exit off I-95, which will be widened to six lanes. Exit 3 will generate $1 billion of commerce including hotels, eateries and gas stations and likely will attract a large manufacturer. This is a conservative projection because there is room for more, and it will grow along U.S. 17 from Exit 5 to the southern limits of the city. In other words, far away from the growing residential centers along U.S. 278.
With access from three exits off I-95, thousands of new jobs will be available within an easy commute. These jobs will include logistics, welding, warehouse management, forklift driving and trucking. These are good jobs, with good salaries and benefits, that have not been readily available to high school graduates.
These jobs will require new training and will lead the way into a new future of career advancement and job training. Thanks to a grant from the EJF Foundation, Hardeeville is graduating its first eight students with welding and forklift driving certifications and OSHA construction safety. The city will begin offering classes for a commercial driver’s license.
It is our hope that we can expand this program into more disciplines and tailor programs for our new industries as they arrive with specialized work force needs.
The adventures continue on Starship Hardeeville.