What is the Bluffton Public Development Corporation?

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comMarch 25, 2014 

The mastermind behind a potential deal to lure a publicly undisclosed business to Buckwalter Place is actually a small, little known Bluffton public body.

The Bluffton Public Development Corporation is an 18-month-old economic development group led by eight prominent Bluffton business leaders.

The nonprofit organization has been working for nine months to bring the business to the commercial park and now has the support of the town and Beaufort County to broker a potential $3-million deal.

Created in September 2012, the group is designed to attract and retain businesses in ways the town cannot.

Under state law, the town is prohibited from entering into certain kinds of joint ventures or partnerships and commercial deals, Bluffton finance director Shirley Freeman said.

Instead, local governments across the state depend on nonprofit corporations to run their economic development efforts, Freeman said.

Such groups can work with private owners and developers to buy, sell, develop and mortgage property, Freeman said. The town of Hilton Head Island has a similar economic corporation, she added.

In Bluffton, the town currently funds $140,000 of the corporation's $164,000 budget, Freeman said. As the group grows, it could expand to include private investors as well, she said.

THE MEMBERSHIP

The Bluffton Public Development Corporation's board of directors is led by local attorney Roberts Vaux and CareCore National Chief Operating Officer Doug Tardio.

CareCore, a health care services company, has more than 1,500 employees nationally and is the largest employer in Bluffton. Its headquarters are on Buckwalter Place Boulevard.

Other members of the board include:

  • Greg Johnson: asssistant vice president and branch sales manager for Regions Bank in Bluffton and a Rotary Club of Bluffton member
  • Berl Davis: executive vice president and chief operating officer of Palmetto Electric Cooperative
  • Roland King: retired Chrysler Corporation human resources executive
  • Sarah Reed: Edward Jones financial advisor, chairman of the Technical College of the Lowcountry Foundation Board of Directors and a Rotary Club of Bluffton board member
  • Steve Miller: Webster Rogers tax partner and president-elect of the Rotary Club of Bluffton
  • Mac Dunaway: managing partner of Dunaway & Cross, a law firm based in Washington, D.C.
Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

Related content:

  • Bluffton to discuss undisclosed business for Buckwalter Place, March 16, 2014: http://bit.ly/1hUJd8D
  • Local governments opening wallets to attract undisclosed business to Buckwalter Place, Feb. 25, 2014: http://bit.ly/1rvh1jc
  • Bluffton buys land, hopes to attract tech businesses, Feb. 4, 2013: http://bit.ly/1ixnJRa
  • Bluffton Town Council considers doubling as a development corporation, Nov. 10, 2010: http://bit.ly/ORM5e4

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