May 2020

A Note From Our Mayors

Author: John McCann, Lisa Sulka | Photographer: Krisztian Lonyai


A Note from Mayor McCann
Rethinking Our Lives Post Coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has given me multiple reasons to pause and think about how we live and work, how we conduct business, and how we govern. Over the last two months, our lives have changed dramatically, and I wonder what our new normal will look like once we get through this crisis and return to our prior existence.

As we continue adapting, what best practices will we use to guide our response, reactions and behaviors during crisis situations, including hurricane preparedness and possible evacuations? What lessons have we learned as leaders, business owners, neighbors, workers, parents and first responders?

Town council found itself conducting meetings electronically. We gathered individually in our homes and connected through a virtual meeting platform on our iPads. We had to rethink how to gather public comments and how to present the meetings so the public could see us in action. As we move forward, will this method of meeting become one we occasionally employ when necessary?

Our town hall was closed to the public, and a large majority of our employees found themselves in a work-from-home situation. With this experience, our leadership is rethinking how a lot of business processes are handled, from collecting business licenses fees and approving building permits to answering telephone calls and conducting committee and staff meetings electronically.

Most businesses voluntarily closed in March, while others were under the governor’s orders to shutter. Those that remained open took steps to protect their employees and other individuals who entered their offices or establishment. People were advised to stand six feet apart in line, wear masks, pick up take-out orders at the door of most restaurants, and wash hands repeatedly. The question is, will they need to maintain these steps and continue making adjustments to their new normal for everyone’s safety?

The PGA canceled the annual RBC Heritage that was scheduled for April. As a result, the island took a huge economic hit. The PGA has since announced it will reschedule the event for June but with no public physically present. As we prepare for this event, just what will our local involvement be? Should we begin looking at how the public interacts at all of the other popular events and fundraisers that take place on the island?

With homeschooling now under their belts, many parents probably have a greater appreciation for their children’s teachers. But the question we have to ask ourselves is how will learning and school be different in the future? On behalf of the town, I extend congratulations to graduates at every level of schooling. But I’m sure schools will have to look at how they host events to honor graduates.

Front-line first responders, from doctors and nurses to fire and rescue personnel, are always on alert and trained on using personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as PPE. During this pandemic, they have shown bravery and dedication to caring for patients. How will their roles and training change, and how will their treatment protocols change?

As people begin to recover from being out of work, what can we do to continue supporting them and assure them that, in time, they will be okay?

There are a lot of questions to be answered. As we think about best practices and about the way we conduct business, we welcome positive thoughts and ideas. You can share them with me at johnm@hiltonheadislandsc.gov and with your individual town council representative.

As always in our new normal lives, wash your hands and practice social distancing.

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A Note from Mayor Sulka

The HUB at Buckwalter Construction Update:
The new home of the Don Ryan Center for Innovation (DRCI) nearing completion

Even in the midst of uncertain times, The Don Ryan Center for Innovation is excited to receive reports that The HUB, our much-anticipated brand-new facility, is nearly finished. Not only is this exciting for the staff and members of the Don Ryan Center, but this beautiful facility will serve as the home of Innovation and Economic Development for the Bluffton area.

Located at Buckwalter Place, next to Kroger and behind St Joseph/Candler, this is going to be an exciting and innovative location that will be the point for all business activities in the Lowcountry. Construction on the exterior has been fashioned with all the finishing touches, including eye-catching signage that welcomes future members into the space. The interior is being completed with gorgeous interior design, state of the art technology, and a remarkable view of the new Town Veteran’s Memorial Park.

The Hub at Buckwalter allows the Don Ryan Center to expand its networking events and programs for members. With the launch of the new space comes new and improved programs, such as Pre-Start, Startup, and Growth.
DRCI’s Pre-Start class subject matter experts and mentors join each week to ensure entrepreneurs are surrounded by support as they plan their venture. The Acceleration Launch 10-week program covers a wide range of topics and aids in charting your course through entrepreneurial waters. The Startup program covers many different facets of getting a new business off the ground, and the Growth program is a deeper dive for mature businesses that are already executing a business plan and have established revenues.

This is a very important part of our town, especially during these times, as this is the economic development and business start-up arm of the town. This board and staff members are working diligently on ways to help our small businesses during the current pandemic, and you will soon see some of the ideas and programs released to the public. Please follow this on Facebook, Instagram and on our town website.

If you are interested in membership at the Don Ryan Center, please call (843) 540-0405 or visit our website at donryancenter.com.

To end this, as I have said many times over the past month: Stay Strong, Stay Home. 

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