The Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette newspapers contribute greatly to Lowcountry life. An example is the article of May 17 that asks an important question, "USCB Hilton Head campus: Done deal a dumb deal?"
I have the answer. And the answer is found in a dose of nostalgia.
The history of Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties is linked by a common past and a move toward a common future led by the University of South Carolina Beaufort. The area has a strong agrarian past that continues to influence our future direction.
Let's recall some major past events and milestones that have shaped us.
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The 1960s and 1970s brought communities that discovered and honored our incredible luck of nature as one of the most beautiful places in the world. Communities such as Fripp Island, Dataw, Sea Pines and Hilton Head Island established policies to protect our uniquely nice lifestyle tied to the value of our natural resources. These natural resources will continue to set the stage for our future.
Past major decisions, once considered unpopular and misguided, actually led to today's successes, including 1) building the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in Beaufort and 2) rejection of Colleton River-BASF industrial complex.
Controversial decisions saved our futures from what would have been unsightly, deteriorating waterfront facilities and highly industrialized sites on the Colleton River. Luckily, controversial decisions preserved desired lifestyles and created opportunities that recognize the huge human advantage of a life connected to the natural beauty of our beloved Lowcountry.
Unlike many towns that neglected and relegated (but now are desperately trying to reclaim) their natural assets/waterfronts to misdirected industrial development, we have intensified our respect and enhancement of our natural beauty into compatible economic successes.
Instead of having neglected waterfronts, we now enjoy news that the city of Beaufort is the happiest seaside retirement town, among its many recognitions. Hilton Head continues to be a global destination for the state's biggest money maker -- tourism -- and was recently listed in the top 10 seaside resorts.
The point of all this is to say that we must support the industry that has brought success to us -- the tourism industry. Yes, many controversial decisions have proven to be milestones toward creating a great place to live. USCB is both an example and key part of this effort.
USCB, where I am a visiting professor of business, is now a comprehensive university with the duty to contribute to the quality of life here in the Lowcountry. Consequently, USCB is compelled to support the state and region's No. 1 economic engine of tourism where it already exists.
It is entirely appropriate that USCB prioritize a collaborative effort between the Town of Hilton Head Island, Beaufort County, the Beaufort County School District, the state, and industry giants like Sea Pines, Hilton Hotels and Marriott, etc. USCB must seek these relationships because they bring career opportunities for our residents.
USCB's hospitality program is best poised to do this with a classroom facility in the center of the action -- Hilton Head Island. It's a golden opportunity to nourish the golden goose that laid the golden egg.
USCB has a duty to nourish, support and work with the tourism industrial giants so our young residents will become their future leaders. USCB can be the most prominent recruiting place for hotel and hospitality graduates. And a physical presence on Hilton Head is a huge step toward this success.
While the decision for USCB to return to the island may be controversial in the short run, it is also most certainly pivotal toward another significant milestone in seizing a brighter future for our residents.
In summary, the answer to the newspapers' important question is profoundly clear: The USCB deal is both done and SMART.
Bill Bowers of Hampton represents District 122 (Beaufort, Hampton and Jasper counties) in the S.C. House of Representatives. He was on the faculty of USC-Salkehatchie in Allendale from 1983 to 2010 and now teaches full-time at USCB as visiting professor of business. He may be reached at RepBowers@yahoo.com or BillBowers@schouse.gov.