A Note From Our Mayors
Author: David Bennett & Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonayi
A Note from David Bennett
The words have been spoken so often during the past few months that they bear repeating here. Hilton Head Island is full of undiscovered treasures. Of course, it’s replete with discovered treasures, too, like our beautiful beaches and marshes, and our wildlife and recreational opportunities. For these we receive worldwide accolades. But still mostly hidden here are a distinct people group, places harboring extraordinary pieces of history found nowhere else, and dynamic opportunities to bring every Hilton Head Islander together into one unique and collaborative community.
In our very midst are magnificent people, steeped in the richest of history. They are a shining example of one truly remarkable facet of Hilton Head Island, though often they’re unseen. They have encountered seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and it is certainly no small wonder that their culture survives at all. But their traditions run mighty and deep, fully flavoring our wonderful island home. Most assuredly, Hilton Head Island is profoundly grateful for the Gullah people and their heritage.
February is the month to taste the Gullah culture. It’s the month to see it and hear it and feel it and know how blessed we all are by it. It is the month to learn about the people who, for generations, have made Hilton Head Island their home, and who certainly know this place better than anyone else. This month, an incredible opportunity is generously offered to each Hilton Head Islander to come into relationship with the Gullah people. Chasing away our winter blues, it’s the twenty-first annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration, all month long. And I, for one, intend to accept the invitation. Visit gullahcelebration.com for all the details.
Deeper still, buried beneath the surface of our soil, are discoveries, which spark the dreams of archeologists. Over the past year, a distinguished team of such professionals from SUNY Binghamton has investigated sites island-wide. At the Sea Pines Shell Ring last spring, they completely mapped the area using ground penetrating radar, and just this past summer Matt Sanger started excavations there, revealing information about the island’s first permanent settlement over 4,000 years ago. This shell ring is one of the best-preserved shell rings in the Southeastern United States and one of four located right here on Hilton Head Island. The Zion Cemetery was mapped, and new burial plots were discovered this winter as archeologists searched for the Zion Chapel of Ease foundations. Assuredly, other shell rings, the Coastal Discovery Museum property, and public archaeology at the Mitchelville site are destined for further archeological investigation, bringing long-buried history to light.
Finally, we have the treasures of R/UDAT (Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team) from the past and the Visioning initiative for the future. R/UDAT is a comprehensive study about our community, prepared over 20 years ago by the respected group of professionals known as the American Institute of Architects, or AIA. (Use the link http://bit.ly/2kb5vOS to read the R/UDAT study.)
Contained within its pages are the treasures of insights and understanding into issues and opportunities that continue to be of paramount importance to our community. Addressing them together could provide a unique opportunity for us to truly unify ourselves into One Island, One Community. Combined with Visioning, which continues to be a priority of Town Council and is receiving the apt attention of the Public Planning Committee, we islanders could set an extraordinary example of excellence in community planning. It could be said of us that we Hilton Head Islanders are the best curators of treasure anywhere.
A Note from Lisa Sulka
Who is in the Don Ryan Center for Innovation Now?
It’s been a while since we updated everyone on the companies currently in the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. I think you will be excited to read about these exciting innovators:
CrossFlight Sky Solutions
This startup specializes in aerial imaging and innovative videography using drone technology for commercial industries. The goal is to provide FAA-certified pilot training service, drone management, maintenance and leasing programs for organizations that require frequent commercial use of drones for industrial inspections and other applications.
This company specializes in detailed automotive data, based on the VIN number of the vehicle, servicing both retail and automotive industries, from the printing of the original window sticker for one vehicle to enterprise solutions for companies that process thousands of cars a week and need to have exact build data, including recall information.
To be available to the public this summer, the Elongator is a patented integral unfolding tailgate that extends the length of a pickup truck cargo bed to securely carry long loads as well as providing a built-in ramp that can allow easy access to the cargo bed for wheeled vehicles and equipment.
My Life’s Message
This company offers web-based “emotional estate planning” services. Too often people think they are prepared by just creating a will and making sure their finances are in order. Clients can ensure that they communicate everything they want to be remembered for and all their last wishes to the people who made a difference in their life.
The Bluffton-based winner of the HHI “Bring Your Business Idea to Life” competition, this company creates custom shoes using 3D scanning and printing technology along with old-world craftsmanship and personalized service for individuals who need custom solutions for their footwear.
The company has patented a new alternative electrical power generative pump called the UpFlow Generator. The pump generates renewable electrical power through water flow, produces no pollutants, and burns no fossil fuels, thereby significantly benefiting the environment and greatly reducing energy costs—a two-part objective which has largely eluded technological researchers to date. Blatchley Power Inc.’s revolutionary product will drastically change the energy production industry.
Do you have a business idea or a new company in its early stages? We are here to help your company grow and thrive. We have one open slot in our Bluffton program and four slots in our Beaufort location. Contact us. Tell us your story. Starting a business and being successful is hard and takes a team effort. We can be a big part of your team.
What else is happening?
• We are merging two incredible corporations this year, making Bluffton even stronger regarding economic development initiatives. With the excitement over the County Economic Development Corporation, we are in the process of merging the Public Development Corporation with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. This will give us the ability to combine two budgets and get more done. More information is forthcoming, and we would love your input and support.
• Ribbon cutting of the DRCI Beaufort satellite location on January 26 at 6 p.m. Register at donryancenter.com. A partnership with the city of Beaufort began late last year, and we are opening the doors to a satellite location of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation. Bluffton is becoming the leader in regional relationships, and this is just a first step.
• Moving into our temporary trailer at Buckwalter Place until our new 3000-square-foot space is ready in late 2017, this is exciting and you will see even more events in our new space. Thanks to Southeastern Development Associates in this new partnership. Also, many thanks go to EviCore for supporting the Don Ryan Center since its inception.
Learn more at donryancenter.com and see how you can be involved in one of the most successful incubators in South Carolina. Membership opportunities and sponsorships are available.