With the start of the new year, The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette today will preview some of the biggest local issues expected to impact the lives of residents, workers, business owners and tourists in Beaufort County and surrounding areas. Following is one of 17 issues to watch in 2017:
Hilton Head is facing a growing shortage of the approximately 8,400 hospitality workers who keep the island's tourism economy running. More competition from booming growth in the Bluffton area and high costs of living on the island are only expected to continue to make the problem worse.
It's an issue business owners and leaders in the state Legislature and on Hilton Head Island Town Council say poses a threat to the island's future.
Calls for more middle-income housing, better public transportation for workers, and more investment in training hospitality workers are all possible solutions expected to get attention from town leaders in 2017.