Hilton Head council narrowing picks for economic-development board

bheffernan@islandpacket.comMay 15, 2013 

The Hilton Head Island Town Council began narrowing a field of 47 applicants Wednesday for seats on an economic-development board.

Council reviewed the applications in closed session and agreed on a group of candidates to interview, according to Mayor Drew Laughlin. He and others declined to say how many were selected.

It would "be reasonable to think," he said, that fewer than half of the applicants would be interviewed.

Interviews for the volunteer positions could be completed by the end of June, although they could be delayed as council tries to craft a budget and fill other committee seats, Laughlin said.

The board members of the nonprofit corporation will work with organizations such as the S.C. Department of Commerce and the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce to recruit and retain businesses.

The group also is expected to act as a closer on public-private deals, such as the $74 million Shelter Cove Towne Centre redevelopment that will replace The Mall at Shelter Cove.

The nonprofit organization will be led by a full-time executive director, who will be hired by Town Council. The board of directors will be accountable to council.

According to recent drafts of the town's 2014 fiscal year budget, the corporation will have $150,000 that could be used for an executive director's salary, travel expenses and office equipment.

The amount could change, as town staff has said $150,000 is only an estimate. The nonprofit board would determine how much support from the town it needs and draft its own budget for council to approve.

"I don't think that probably anybody believes that $150,000 is really going to operate an economic-development committee," town finance director Susan Simmons said at a budget workshop Tuesday.

Some council members say the town should show a better estimate of the real cost of the organization.

"We don't want to be sending a signal to the community that we're doing it on the cheap," Councilman George Williams said.

Laughlin, however, said that $150,000 might be enough for the first year.

"I'd be surprised if you're not six months into the fiscal year before they're in the position to have a director chosen, who then needs to be funded," he said Wednesday.

Related content

  1. Hilton Head Council disagrees about autonomy of economic development group, April 2, 2013
  2. Hilton Head economic development group forming too slowly, council members say, March 21, 2013
  3. Hilton Head to create nonprofit corporation to attract, retain businesses, Feb. 21, 2013

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