Wednesday, July 30, 2014

From the House

Bluffton Today

I had planned to explain what is going on relative to the uproar over the Jasper school system. This is a very serious matter, and I will not have all the facts until at least next week. Please bear with me, as this is something that needs the cleansing power of sunshine before it will get better. When you have the full story, I’m confident you will be as angry and disappointed as I am.

On a happier, local note, the new iteration of Josh Cook’s Corner Perk is off to a great start with a classy ribbon cutting and an opening day full house. Josh is a good friend of mine, and we had been anticipating this day for far too long. When local contractor Randy West took over, the project really started to perk. It has all the comfortable intimacy of the old place with more space, a more convenient location, and most importantly, the same old Josh.

The Corner Perk is just one of a great many new or relocated businesses finding their way to Old Town Bluffton, many also finding good space in the Promenade. In truth, we have had so many ribbon cuttings that the big scissors have had to be sharpened several times.

I am happy to be able to report that around the state, there is a surge of new business. We are seeing the evidence in our quarterly tax collections. The Great Recession is in the rear-view mirror with business confidence soaring. At the risk of seeming to brag about our little part of the Lowcountry, Old Town Bluffton and the rest of District 118 are leading the parade. While those of us in real estate took some hits in the last few years, new businesses in our area actual increased by a big number.

There are a number of reasons why we are seeing such a flowering of the entrepreneurial spirit in our area. It might have something to do with the fact that houses and businesses in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and the Northeast have started to change hands again. Folks who were biding their time until things loosened up are now arriving in our neighborhoods, with good ideas for active retirement, as well as some thoughts on what phase two, or three or four will look like in their business lives. To them, I say “welcome,” the party is just getting started.

To those of us who study these things, one of the important features of our success over the years is the fact that our local water quality is still holding up pretty well. It’s almost a cliché that half of Beaufort County is under water at high tide. The recreational and soul-healing aspects of clean water cannot be overestimated.

Fortunately, there is a productive partnership between the Town of Bluffton, Beaufort County, and your legislative delegation, that has long recognized the paramount importance of water quality in our state and in our region. I continue to work with incoming Bluffton Town Manager Marc Orlando, along with our dedicated partners at Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to insure that our yearly water quality allocation for the May River is producing the absolute highest bang for the buck from these scarce dollars. Marc, along with Town of Bluffton Water Quality maven, Kim Jones, and your representative, are working overtime to see that Town Councilman Larry and Tina Toomer’s oyster leases are open and productive, as well as on a trajectory to allow full harvesting as we go through the seasons. A pristine May River and our Town of Bluffton are just a natural fit.