Beaufort News

Jasper County Council votes to leave Lowcountry Economic Alliance; will join new group

Jasper County Council voted Wednesday night to leave the Lowcountry Economic Alliance to become member of a similar but larger group.

The panel voted unanimously to join Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton and Hampton counties in the Southern Carolina Alliance. The move leaves Beaufort County the sole member of the Lowcountry alliance, formed in 2008 to pursue state funding for job growth and to attract new businesses to the area.

"We are not anti-Beaufort County," Jasper Councilman Marty Sauls said late Wednesday. "We're looking forward to partnering with a new group to help Jasper County move forward."

Jasper County officials announced they were considering leaving the Lowcountry alliance about a month ago, saying they were frustrated by what they called the slow place of the group.

Beaufort County Lowcountry alliance member and county administrator Gary Kubic said Wednesday night he was surprised by Jasper's decision, but said he remained optimistic about Beaufort County's efforts to bring new businesses to the area.

"I hope Jasper County is comfortable with their move," he said. "Beaufort (County) still has options within itself to work with its municipalities for economic growth."

Town councils in Bluffton and on Hilton Head Island recently voted to apply to join the Lowcountry group.

A message left for Kim Statler, the Lowcountry Economic Alliance's executive director who recently announced plans to resign, was not returned Wednesday night.