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Mayor’s Memo: Hardeeville continues to ‘build a city’

  • Hardeeville Mayor Harry Williams

“We are here to build a city.”

This was the city’s mission statement at the kickoff meeting between Hardeeville’s stakeholders and Retail Strategies of Birmingham, Ala., on May 1 at City Hall.

Hardeeville’s landowners, real estate brokers and engineers met the project managers from Retail Strategies and heard how their real estate marketing firm will interact with the city’s Planning Department and prospective national chains to create a retail marketplace that will bring jobs and visitors to Hardeeville.

Hardeeville is the gateway to the Lowcountry, and the city wants to capitalize on this ever-expanding marketplace. More than 55,000 vehicles pass by our two exits on I-95 each day, and 25,000 cars travel each day from Exit 8 to Bluffton and Hilton Head.

Retail Strategies will work with property owners to create commercial attractions and “Town Centers” that will bring quality restaurants, retailers and service industries.

This project began last month when the City Council voted to award a three-year contract to Retail Strategies.

Phase 1 began immediately and entails the research and data collection that will be used to convince national retailers of the vast market that Hardeeville serves.

These valuable statistics will include demographics of the entire region and will show that customers will travel “West” for the right product. Retail Strategies will also provide the list of retailers who are in high demand and are looking to expand. It is important to build our city with growing companies.

Phase 2 began at the May 1 introductory meeting, and everyone in attendance was optimistic about the future after hearing about the extensive marketing data that will be available.

This information will be available electronically, and a brochure will highlight key Hardeeville market statistics. Most importantly, they learned that Retail Strategies is a service provided by the city to help their efforts to develop their properties.

“Think big. Create a vision for your entire property and then recruit the businesses to make it come true.”

Phase 3 is when the real work begins. The city is encouraging all landowners to create a master plan for their properties, work with the city’s Planning Department and present their vision to Retail Strategies for recommendations and then recruitment of the appropriate tenants.

Retail Strategies has working relationships with the key national chains, they know what type of market fits well, and they will help make the right match. Hardeeville wants successful businesses that satisfy local needs, and that’s the expertise that Retail Strategies brings to the city.

This plan will encourage local entrepreneurs who want to locate restaurants or shops; and local service providers, such as doctors, lawyers and other professional services in Hardeeville. The goal is to have diverse centers that offer a variety of businesses that meet the needs of residents and visitors of the Lowcountry.

An essential part of this process will be the city’s Planning Department. We want to create marketplaces that capture the “feel” of Hardeeville.

Architecture that fits our small-town history will be our goal. We also want to keep the natural beauty of our city.

We want to protect our wetlands and our forested areas and “blend” these new centers into the natural landscape and be protective of stormwater runoff that will affect our natural resources. Our goal is to plan wisely and beautifully and be environmentally protective.

The city now has two strong organizations working to fill our development zones.

Jasper County is part of the Southern Carolina Alliance, which recruits industry from around the country and world. It brings prospects to areas like River Port on U.S. 17 and our Commerce Park near Exit 5.

SCA and Retail Strategies give the city a proactive team that will develop Hardeeville in an intelligent way.

Harry Williams is mayor of the city of Hardeeville.

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