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Mayor’s memo: Collaboration will help Lowcountry thrive

  • Harry Williams

For the past 15 months I’ve been writing here about the happenings in Hardeeville. It is an exciting time for our city and more good news will be coming in the next 15 months.

But it is important to note that everything that happens in Hardeeville can have a profound effect on the entire region.

Let me give you a few examples. There is much ballyhoo about Margaritaville and rightly so. This development will bring jobs to local restaurant workers, builders, plumbers, painters, and landscapers to name a few.

Where will these workers come from? There is already a shortage of this work force. Do we need more affordable homes for this growing work force? Will more be commuting to our area bringing more traffic? Do we need wider roads and more traffic lights? I could go on and cite many more examples but suffice it to say that these issues affect every municipality in the Lowcountry because we all share the same roads, workers, and concerns.

That is why Hardeeville supported two initiatives in the past month. On Sept. 28, the builders of Latitude Margaritaville hosted a reception and invited all the elected municipal, county and state officials along the 278 corridor.

The objective was to give these decision makers a peek at the scope of the development and to embrace the project as one that will benefit the entire region.

There was a terrific turnout and included Sen. Tom Davis, Rep. Weston Newton, mayors Lisa Sulka and Joey Malphrus, and county officials Paul Sommerville, Jerry Stewart, Barbara Clark and Henry Etheridge and many more council members and community leaders.

In attendance were executives from the Margaritaville Brand, Minto Communities who will build the homes, and Sutton Industries who will develop the commercial site.

They gave a brief summary of the plans and the expected timetables. And most importantly, this project is getting national exposure and will attract more visitors and new residents who will discover Bluffton, Hilton Head and the beauty of the Lowcountry. Thanks to everyone who came by to make this a great success and of course thanks to our hosts, Latitude Margaritaville.

The other regional initiative is the Southern Lowcountry Regional Board, also known as SoLoCo, which held its first public meeting in late August. The board consists of the mayors of Hilton Head, Bluffton, Hardeeville, and Ridgeland; the chairpersons and administrators of Beaufort and Jasper County; the city managers; and one additional member from each of the councils.

The mission is “to create a regional think tank that will identify the problems and opportunities that face the entire southern low country.”

Some of the topics that this board hopes to study are storm water management, water and sewage needs, housing needs, environmental concerns, educational needs, economic development and population projections to name a few.

The goal is to face the challenges of the future with the understanding and cooperation of all the leaders throughout the region. I have been asked to chair this board and Bluffton Mayor Lisa Sulka has graciously agreed to be vicechair. I look forward to a productive collaboration with our neighbors as we all search for a better understanding of the needs, and their solutions, for the region.

All of us who are working for the growth of Hardeeville realize that every cause has an effect and those effects have no municipal borders. Our waterways flow across our boundaries, our roads stretch from Ridgeland to Hilton Head, we share the same water and sewer authority, and we share the same work force.

We need the collective intelligence and experience of our neighbors to make our decisions wiser and to keep the Lowcountry a wonderful place to live.

Harry Williams is mayor of the city of Hardeeville.

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