Heritage foundation pays off $1M county loan

cconley@islandpacket.comJune 26, 2012 

The Heritage Classic Foundation on Monday paid off $1 million it borrowed from Beaufort County to help put on the 2011 golf tournament and has asked to forgo paying the interest on the loan.

Simon Fraser, chairman of the foundation's board, handed county officials a check Monday for $750,000, retiring the debt nearly four years early. A $250,000 payment was made in September.

Interest on the loan has accrued to about $29,000 over the past 10 months. The council is expected to decide whether to forgive the interest next month.

Councilman Stu Rodman said the county would lose less than $2,000 by forgiving the interest. He said the county gained "probably millions in benefits" from the tournament.

"The amount we would have gotten on the face of the note is about $29,000," Rodman said. "But the amount we are really out of pocket, the amount we would have earned on that money because interest rates are so low, is about $1,900."

County Council approved the loan last year to offset the cost of running the 2011 tournament, which lost Verizon as a title sponsor after the 2010 event. The Town of Hilton Head Island donated $1 million to the foundation, which dipped into reserves to put on the tournament.

Royal Bank of Canada was title sponsor and Boeing Co. was presenting sponsor for this year's event, held April 9-15.

The event at Harbour Town Golf Links attracts thousands of tourists to the region and creates tens of millions of dollars in economic activity, according to economic studies.

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