December 2012


Author: Drew Laughlin and Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Economic Development on Hilton Head Island

At town council’s workshop in 2011, we spent a considerable amount of time on beginning to shape a different future for Hilton Head Island. We adopted as a top priority to create an economic development advisory committee (EDAC), composed of residents, to make recommendations back to council on the issue of development and redevelopment. Faced with a formidable national, state, and local economic downturn, town council decided to mount an equally formidable effort at an economic upturn.

Town council chartered the EDAC to provide input on the decision making process regarding economic redevelopment and to specifically answer the following questions:

1.What specifically does the committee believe such an entity will accomplish for the economic enrichment of the island?

2.Why would such an entity be significantly better for the island community’s economic future than what currently exists?

3. How would such an entity fit with regional efforts?

4.What capabilities (in the form of knowledge, skills and abilities) would such an entity need?

5.Could the committee recommend a pilot project to verify the value to the community?

The Mayor’s Task Force, the Comprehensive Plan, and studies by others have identified the Hilton Head Island economy as very dependent on tourism, which is cyclical and impacted by recession and recovery cycles. Structural issues also affect our economy. The island is susceptible to negative effects of an aging infrastructure, impacted by high vacancy rates of commercial office space, and at risk of future decline in property values and quality of life if a level of economic renewal is not achieved.

The EDAC recommended that the town should form a non-profit corporation with a full-time executive director, governed by a volunteer board of experienced business executives to raise the visibility of our island as a great place to live and work and to work with other regional agencies to recruit targeted small businesses to locate on Hilton Head Island. A concerted effort to encourage private sector redevelopment on our island is preferable and more affordable/ realistic than government-sponsored redevelopment.

This new entity will focus on four areas:

1.Identifying and attracting new development of previously undeveloped properties in desired segments (sometimes called green field development).

2.Encouraging redevelopment of existing properties by attracting new businesses in target segments, and expansion of existing businesses.

3. Identifying and advocating for solutions to infrastructure issues that are inhibiting businesses, for example, wireless broadband vital for attracting new live/work at home residents, or strategic restructure/expansion of our island airport to future meet market needs.

4.Identifying and advocating key growth issues with county and state governments on behalf of the town.

Please support our effort.

New and Improved Online Experience

We are excited to announce that the Town of Bluffton and Bluffton Police Department websites have a new look. The Bluffton Police Department website also has a new address: As a reminder, the town address is

Noticeable changes include the colors and navigational signage. These represent the new wayfinding signs located throughout Bluffton and branding of the Bluffton “State of Mind.”

The homepage highlights important information, meetings & upcoming events while having a less cluttered look. We have strived to provide easier navigation by putting information just a few clicks away with buttons easy to use and understand.

Additional features include:
Lowcountry Living tab: featuring area lodging, dining, water activities, town services, parks, etc.

I Want To tab: providing easy navigation to information on applying for a business license, paying a parking ticket, renting the community center, signing up for trash service, and participating on a board or commission.

Top navigation bar: including quick links to Town Services, Town Government, Departments, Public Safety, and Bluffton Explorer

New Map Gallery: available under the various categories on the sign post navigation bar. Additional features coming soon will highlight town projects, economic development, and much more.

Don’t forget to sign up for the Christmas parade, to be held Saturday, Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. Register online or use the QR code below.

The website was designed by a team of 10 town employees from various departments and developed by Lori McLain from the IT department in cooperation with, the official web portal for the State of South Carolina.

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