February 2020

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai

A Note from Mayor McCann
Reinvesting in Ourselves: Our Focus for 2020 and Beyond
What I know for sure about Hilton Head Island is that it’s the best island in America. Awards we’ve received from esteemed media like Condé Nast Traveler and Southern Living measure how well liked our island is by millions of visitors who flock here for vacations and business trips. But, I measure it more so by our residents who are afforded the opportunity to enjoy our natural environment, parks, recreation, culture and rich history. They contribute their time and talent through a well of volunteerism that speaks to how much we support each other, whether reading to elementary school children or serving meals at local food kitchens. We have good schools, health care, and sewer access, thanks to a partnership that raised millions of dollars to pay for sewer connections for those who couldn’t afford it on their own. Our town staff works incredibly hard to ensure we are fiscally strong and provide services for residents. These truisms emerged during Town Council’s recent workshop that took place in neighboring Beaufort last December.

Our workshop consultant, Julia Novak, led my fellow Town Council members and me in healthy discussions on what we appreciate about Hilton Head Island today and what we hope it will be in 10 years. As we embark through this new decade, we hope to be one island and a leader in community building.

We hope for workforce and housing opportunities that resolve the challenges we have in those two areas. We hope for open space that will give us room to breathe. We hope to have thriving heritage tourism, a central gathering place, a vibrant economy and best-in-class facilities. Our list of hopes was much longer, but we were able to narrow it down to three areas of focus for us in 2020: exceptional quality of life, prosperity and innovation, and best-in-class services and facilities.

Exceptional quality of life sounds like a pie-in-the-sky kind of view, but it is truly what we want for everyone who lives and works here. This category includes issues we have dealt with recently such as the U.S. 278 corridor project and Mitchelville/Gullah Geechee cultural preservation. In this category, we added protecting our environment for the future and the proposed referendum, which we hope will raise $65 million to fund projects in recreation and arts.

We’ll continue our efforts in workforce development and housing and our comprehensive plan under the category of prosperity and innovation. In addition, we would like to develop master plans for specific areas of the island and a plan that markets our community as a great place to live.

Best-in-class services and facilities speaks to what we offer our residents: great recreational facilities, beach parks, pathways, fire and rescue, well-trained and knowledgeable staff who are responsive, and sufficient budgets for various projects. Since our workshop, town staff has been working to flesh out specific strategies and tactics for each of these areas. They will then present these to the full Town Council for review and approval. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov.


A Note from Mayor Sulka
Get in the Loop: Join the Don Ryan Center for Innovation
I hope the new year is off to a good start for all our readers. This year I will write in a bit more detail on the many great initiatives within the town. The first will be the ongoing programs of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. I ask all of you to take a look at the website at www.donryancenter.com, and if you would like to be included in these sessions or receive information on what is happening at the center, join as a member. It is affordable and will get you in the loop with the opening of the HUB as well as with the innovators who are involved at the center.

In 2019, the Don Ryan Center for Innovation launched “Sessions,” a monthly networking event for the DRCI community and public. The events are held at 8 a.m. on the last Thursday of each month at the Corner Perk in Old Town Bluffton. Members of the Don Ryan Center can attend free or charge. The public is welcome to attend for a small fee of $10. This fee is waived for all monthly events if you become a supporting member of the DRCI.
Monthly topics covered included marketing SEO, design thinking strategy and more. Attendees also learned lessons from local entrepreneurs as they shared their experiences building their businesses. Featured speakers included Laurie Brown, founder and owner of Aunt Laurie’s and Billy Watterson, owner of Burnt Church Distillery and Watterson Brands.

The last Sessions of the year was held on November 21, featuring Lucy Rosen, owner of Smart Marketing Communications. It drew a record crowd to finish the year with strong momentum heading into 2020.

The first Sessions of 2020 was held on January 30, featuring Matthew Nikravesh, founder and owner of Solarus Technologies. Nikravesh discussed the importance of company culture and how the right culture can lead to success in any organization.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation is looking forward to 2020 and the opening of its new location, The HUB at Buckwalter, which will serve as the home of the Don Ryan Center. Having the new space will allow DRCI to expand its networking events and opportunities for members. Some of the events in the pipeline are monthly evening networking events, pitch events, lunch-and-learns, and even student-friendly learning opportunities.

The DRCI will be the “HUB” for entrepreneurship and innovation in the Lowcountry. We encourage you to stop in and learn how we can help you.

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