Hilton Head businessman to launch rival chamber association

gmartin@islandpacket.comDecember 19, 2011 

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Citing dissatisfaction with its use of resources and lack of accounting transparency, a local businessman said Monday he is launching a new group to rival the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce.

Longtime Hilton Head resident Skip Hoagland said he hopes to have his new group, the Greater Hilton Head/Bluffton Convention and Visitors Bureau, operational in the first week of 2012.

He said he registered the group's name with the S.C. Secretary of State office last week, and intends to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Attempts Monday to confirm the group's registration with a Secretary of State representative were unsuccessful.

Hoagland recently has criticized the chamber in full-page newspaper advertisements.

"Anybody can criticize," Hoagland said. "That's easy. But I'm offering workable solutions. We've got to give people an alternative."

Hoagland said the group would reduce overhead by employing only one to three workers, including an executive director who would receive a performance-based salary between $80,000 and $120,000.

Last year, the chamber drew scrutiny for CEO Bill Miles' annual compensation, reported as $344,251.

Miles declined to comment on Hoagland's plans for a new organization.

Hoagland said 80 percent of his group's resources, after its first year of operation, would go toward promoting the island.

He said he's not alone in his discontent with the chamber, estimating that 50 to 100 local businesses would be willing to pay $295 in annual dues to join his group.

"I'm not the only one," Hoagland said. "There will be a lot of people who will go public in the coming months about how they feel."

Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

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