Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From the House

Bluffton Today

Last week’s column was composed before the big news out of Columbia concerning the replacement for retiring Senator Jim DeMint. Our hearty congratulations go to our Congressman Tim Scott, soon to be Senator Tim Scott. This is particularly good news for those of us in the Lowcountry, as the presumptive senator has excellent ties to Beaufort County, having attended numerous functions in Bluffton and Hilton Head. He has also been the weekend houseguest, several times, of our newest Representative Weston Newton and his lovely wife, Rose. Politically speaking, things just keep getting better for this region, as well as our state.

Traditionally, the week between Christmas and the New Year has been busy and productive for the merchants of Bluffton. My conversations with the Promenade business owners confirm they expect the upcoming week to be at least as profitable as those leading up to Christmas. You know, the pressure is off. Most of our out-of-town guests have departed and it’s time to redeem some of those gift cards we received. It might be time for some spa services, followed by a great dinner and a quiet stroll around the Old Town.

One of the young people making a mark in the Bluffton business community is my friend, Josh Cook. Josh is the owner of The Corner Perk. He is a purveyor of fine coffee and a variety of food items. Josh is also a fellow with a lot of good ideas that benefit, not only his group of loyal customers, but the Bluffton community at large as well. You may be familiar with his creative “Buy Local” campaign and his very interesting “Love Bluffton” posters that seem to be everywhere. The next time you find yourself at the corner of Burnt Church Road and Bruin Road, drop in at the Corner Perk, get a coffee and a sandwich and have a chat with this outgoing young man. You will leave more optimistic about the future of our town and maybe even less pessimistic about the prospects for our upcoming generation.

In somewhat the same vein, I have been talking quite a bit with my friend, Beaufort County Councilman Jerry Stewart. Jerry is anxious to engage with our Department of Commerce with some ideas about job creation and economic development. Jerry was the point of the spear involving County Council’s recent efforts to partner with other jurisdictions in the region in attracting businesses and light industries to the area. Our communication has always been excellent, and I look forward to working with Jerry and County Council as we revive not only our port project but other economic drivers as well.

I attended a good meeting last week with our state and local tourism experts. They think 2013 is going to be a banner year for the visitor economy in our region. Not only is the Heritage on stable financial and sponsorship footing, but also the remnants of the Gulf oil spill are still making us relatively more attractive than some of our traditional competitors. Also, the devastation in New Jersey, New York and New England will likely enhance our tourism prospects. While I have no wish to benefit from the misfortunes of others, those folks have got to have some place to go for vacation, and South Carolina, particularly Lowcountry South Carolina, has everything a visitor might desire.

One more time—Don’t drink and drive. Please have a designated driver and take care of yourself and your friends. Next year is going to be a great one—don’t miss it.