The proposed capital sales tax partnership between Beaufort County and the University of South Carolina Beaufort utilizes a powerful business model to create an arena and a wellness/sports complex to serve Beaufort County and USCB. The university is a key partner in economic development for the county. Each year, USCB has a $74 million economic impact and supports 1,000 direct and indirect jobs.
As a 40-year resident of Hilton Head Island, a former island banker, the owner/broker of Long Cove Realty for 30 years and a 20-year member who also served as chairman of the Beaufort-Jasper Higher Education Commission for a decade, I understand what a dynamic local university means to the county.
By my rough calculations, local taxpayers would have paid only 25 to 30 percent of the cost of the facility. USCB would have paid almost half of the project cost through the land, water capacity, sewer capacity, electrical capacity, heating/AC capacity, and 1,200 existing parking places. Tourists would have contributed 40 to 45 percent of the revenue generated by the capital sales tax funding method.
The business model appears to offer low risk and high returns for Beaufort County. Local taxpayers would pay for only 25 to 30 percent of the project -- and reap significant personal benefits. Economic growth increases taxpayers' property values and helps the region keep pace in the global tourism market. New business owners and retirees are attracted to an active community-- so are young professionals.
John E. McKenzie
Hilton Head Island