Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation

Leading men



Throughout these pages, you’ll find Leading Men of every type of business, from doctors and dentists to realtors and craftsman. Each of them is a captain of their own industry and a titan in their own business. John O’Toole is a little different. His business is… well, business. And business is good.

As the Executive Director of the Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation, he’s tasked with courting industry to our area, creating jobs, diversifying our economy and ultimately improving lives. “We have had great success,” said O’Toole. “And I say ‘we’ because our board, our area learning institutions, chambers and local governments have been tremendously supportive.”

It’s a group effort that has resulted in $170 million in investment, 600 new jobs and retention of a further 179 jobs over the course of the last two years. Part of that success comes from the unique insight O’Toole brought to the role.

“Previous efforts at development were always looking for the next Boeing, BMW, or Volvo. I contend that you can knit a pretty good portfolio of smaller companies in a community and diversify your portfolio,” he said. 

He points to success stories like Burnt Church Distillery and Glassworks, smaller companies that have a tremendous impact on our local economy and benefit greatly from our area’s workforce. Or to Lowcountry Fresh Market, where a local act of social entrepreneurship created a rising tide that lifts all ships.

“This is one of the best places to do business, in one of the best states to do business,” he said. “I don’t think you could find a better environment anywhere.”
PO Box 7017, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938 | 843-226-3462 |