Seven years ago, we started paving the way for a learning environment on Hilton Head Island that would open a world of opportunities for students interested in honing their knowledge and skills in an international destination that annually attracts millions of visitors.
Several months ago, the ribbon was cut for the new University of South Carolina Beaufort's Hilton Head Island campus that promises to be a cutting-edge center for hospitality and tourism training.
Located on the site of the original USCB Hospitality Management program, which ran from 1998 to 2003, the building features classrooms, a beverage laboratory, a demonstration kitchen and a fabrication laboratory where students can create high quality marketing materials.
The $24 million campus at One Sand Shark Drive is a sight to behold. If you have a chance to visit, you will be welcomed to a beautiful facility destined to be a central hub of activities, community events and meetings.
As a matter of fact, the Town Council hosted its annual workshop there last December, followed by a council meeting in January. We look forward to hosting more meetings there in the future
There are many things I can say about this campus, but the key factor I'd like to focus on is partnership. I am proud of how a working relationship between USCB and Town of Hilton Head Island has rejuvenated an area in need of attention.
Our partnership to revitalize the former campus area goes back to 2012 when, together, we formed the Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training, setting in motion plans to bring USCB back to the island. School and Town leaders began talking about the near future of USCB on the island.
We owe much credit to former USCB Chancellor Jane Upshaw, Town Manager Steve Riley and former Mayor Drew Laughlin, who were the main drivers behind the movement for USCB to once again have a strong presence on the island.
It was a natural fit, since many of USCB's hospitality management students were already completing internships on the Island, and the new facility would be designed for hotel, restaurant and tourism education. Additionally, the idea of a new campus aligned with the Town's goals of redeveloping the original Hilton Head Island commercial areas.
The new campus that has emerged serves as a cornerstone to spur redevelopment and successfully prepare students for careers in the hospitality and tourism industry that directly impacts our island economy. According to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, nearly three million people visited the Island in 2017 and had a $1.49 billion impact on our economy.
Tourists, as well as our residents, patronize our hotels, restaurants, shopping centers and other businesses. In doing so, they expect the highest level of customer service. USCB will train students to put their best foot forward and give them the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business.
John McCann is the mayor of Hilton Head Island. JohnM@hiltonheadislandsc.gov