Hilton Head economic development corporation to get funding windfall

The group charged with luring new businesses to Hilton Head Island will have three times as much money to do that work in the coming year.

Town officials on Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to a $70-million fiscal year 2015 budget. It includes plans to give the Town of Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation nearly $450,000. The group received about $150,000 this fiscal year.

Half of the $450,000 figure would be spent on an executive director and assistant, town documents said.

The vote to approve the overall budget was 6-1, with Councilman Marc Grant opposed.

Development board members plan to use the money to pay for operations that also include a web-based marketing campaign, business-scouting trips, and finding office space for the nonprofit organization, according to town documents.

Council members said they increased the funding because they see the corporation as vital to attracting cutting-edge businesses and younger residents to the area.

"The people on that board are of exceptional quality, and there was a lot of research and thought into their request" for funding, Councilman John McCann said. "I suggested we go with their expertise."

Tom Upshaw, the development board's chairman and president of Palmetto Electric Cooperative, said that the group currently operates on a thin budget.

Of the executive director search, Upshaw said: "We're going to get somebody there with a great knowledge of the community, who knows what office space and incentives are available and understands the existing business climate," he said.

A full-time director would take some of the burden off the board, he said.

The panel plans to interview three to five finalists by next month and hire by August, board members said Tuesday.

Along with the corporation's funding boost, the town's new budget increases funds to pay for permitting and design plans for projects such as the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus at Office Park Road.

In addition, it adds merit-based pay raises for some town staff.

Council will take a final vote on the budget at its June 17 meeting.

Follow reporter Dan Burley on Twitter at


Draft Hilton Head Island fiscal year 2015 budget

Related content: