Local businessman claims chamber misrepresented his membership status

gmartin@islandpacket.comDecember 28, 2011 

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Skip Hoagland, a local businessman forming an organization to promote tourism in southern Beaufort County, disputed a claim by a spokeswoman for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce that he is not a chamber member.

Last week, chamber spokeswoman Charlie Clark downplayed the potential impact of recent public scrutiny on the chamber's operations, saying, "That scrutiny comes from one community member who ... isn't even a chamber member."

Hoagland is a principal owner of Island Communications, a marketing firm that has been a chamber member for more than 30 years, he said. Hoagland has recently taken out several full-page newspaper advertisements criticizing the chamber.

Clark "is out of touch with reality," Hoagland said. "I need to clear this up and get my point out."

Informed of Hoagland's objections, Clark adamantly maintained her position.

"... Domains New Media, the company listed in Hoagland's inaccurate advertisements, is not a member of the chamber," Clark wrote.

"Island Communications is a member under the name Linda Rew. If Mr. Hoagland is an employee or investor in that company, they chose not to list him as a part of the company."

Hoagland maintained that his organization, the Greater Hilton Head/Bluffton Convention and Visitors Bureau, is not intended to replace or compete with the chamber.

"There will be absolutely zero competition" between the two groups, Hoagland said.

He said his group would strictly serve to promote tourism, saying the chamber represents broader interests.

Hoagland said he would release a more comprehensive description of his group's structure on Sunday

He said there would be few changes in his original aim for the group, which would be staffed by one to three people and led by an executive director receiving a performance-based annual salary of $80,000 to $120,000.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at Twitter.com/LowCoBiz.

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