September 2020

A Note from our Mayors

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

A Note from John McCann
Hiring New Town Manager is Major Responsibility

Before the end of this year, Hilton Head Island’s Town Council will have fulfilled its most important role: the selection of a new town manager. When current town manager Steve Riley announced his retirement in June, council gathered to choose an experienced firm to guide us through the recruitment and selection process. This is the first time in 26 years that our town council has been through the hiring process for its top employee, so you can imagine what a huge responsibility we have before us.

We are going through a very formal process that has attracted a field of over 100 applicants seeking this top leadership spot. In June, we contracted with Colin Baenziger and Associates, a small but nationally recognized consulting and municipal recruiting firm based in Daytona Beach Shores, Florida. Mr. Baenziger held extensive meetings with town council and staff to obtain information about the position, the community and the qualities our next town manager should have. In addition, he and his associates contacted a diverse group of citizens to obtain the same type of information.

The firm used this information to create a thorough overview of our history, demographics, geography, commerce, government, challenges and opportunities, and vision of the ideal candidate. This document, which is available on the Town Manager Search page of our website, is filled with information that you may find interesting to read.

With over 100 applications in hand, the recruiting firm will use input already gathered and its recruiting metrics to narrow the field to the top contenders for town council to review and interview. This includes conducting comprehensive background and reference checks. Based on the information we receive, we will collectively select a group of candidates to proceed to the interview process. And, depending on the status of COVID-19 in our community, a public reception may be scheduled for our top candidates to meet community residents and leaders.

To help you stay up to date on what stage we are in, town staff has created a page on our website ( that documents the town manager search process. On this page, you will find the position profile, the job description, the timeline of our search, and an overview of how the public has been and will continue to be involved.

Once chosen, this individual will be the fifth town manager in our 37 years as a town. We’ve been fortunate to have some great town managers over the years, especially a manager of Steve’s caliber, values, experience, knowledge and love for community. He has built a solid foundation for the new leader to stand upon.

Our plan is to select the new town manager in early October with the goal to have this leader in place for our annual retreat in early December. Stay tuned!


A Note from Lisa Sulka
Membership Perks: Why You Should Join the Don Ryan Center for Innovation

At the Don Ryan Center for Innovation, we are continually working on ways in which we can best serve the Bluffton community. Among our entrepreneurial programs and business development endeavors, we choose to focus our efforts on improving the program, which is most beneficial to individuals living in the Bluffton community: Membership!

Membership at the Don Ryan Center for Innovation brings people from every sector of the community together, and it creates a cohesive, united network across all business in the Lowcountry.

You might be wondering why it would be beneficial for you to join the DRCI. Membership at the Don Ryan Center has many amazing perks, and the biggest benefit being offered right now is free membership! The Don Ryan Center is offering one-year memberships at no cost to business owners, entrepreneurs, and young professionals in the Bluffton region.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation also hosts monthly networking events exclusive to members. Due to COVID-19, these events have been held virtually but have been very successful. Some virtual events held recently include “Zoom the Room” and webinars with various host speakers.

Membership gives you networking and community outreach opportunities as well as free access to events. But most important, membership grants you access to our pool of over 40 experienced mentors.

Historically, our mentors only worked with innovators enrolled in one of our programs. However, with the Town of Bluffton passing the Business Resiliency Plan in May, more local businesses seeking help and advice will be able to leverage the skills and expertise of our mentors.

The Don Ryan Center for Innovation is also partnering with local businesses to give members even more perks! In August, we partnered with The Cottage to offer BOGO lunch to members, a perfect spot to take a client or to talk business. Throughout the fall, the Don Ryan Center will be partnering with more and more local businesses to add benefits for our members.

With all of these amazing benefits and perks, it is easy to see the positives that come with becoming a member of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. Did you miss our August benefit but don’t want to miss out on the next one? Then be sure to sign up for membership and see what other perks are coming this fall! For more information on membership, head to our website,, or give us a call at (843) 540-0405. 

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