News Release

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Town Council Approves Creation of the Gullah-Geechee Historic Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation

October 5, 2022

Hilton Head Island Town Council took a historic step towards protecting its historic and culturally sensitive neighborhoods this past week through the creation of the Gullah Geechee Historic Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation.

The corporation will serve the Town’s historic neighborhoods, which have been identified as including the Bay Gall, Big Hill, Chaplin, Gardner, Grassland, Jarvis, Jonesville, Marshland, Mitchelville, Spanish Wells, Squire Pope, and Stoney areas of the Island.

Town Council had identified a significant threat to these areas due to a sustained and continuing absence of viable economic opportunities, lack of access to safe, respectable, and quality affordable housing options, limited access to critical skills, training, and education programs. The results of these threats could continue to negatively impact these communities unless and until significant investments are made to ensure their long-term sustainability.

At its meeting on September 20, 2022, the Town Council finalized its adoption of the articles of incorporation and corresponding by-laws for the Gullah-Geechee Historic Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation, which Town Council began the initial pursuit of back in February. The focus of this organization will be the promotion of cultural resources and the protection of cultural assets within the Island's historic communities, thus:

"The Town's Gullah-Geechee neighborhoods are important assets to our Island. At one time, these neighborhoods thrived with businesses, homes, and other cultural activities. We want to ensure these neighborhoods have the necessary resources to thrive and remain sustainable for future generations of Island residents who can prosper and live within the communities that their Gullah Geechee ancestors called home," said Mayor John McCann. "The corporation will be an effective tool to help us achieve our vision for these areas."

"The corporation will play an important role in helping us to strategically preserve historic Gullah-Geechee neighborhoods through engaging in true community redevelopment activities. By engaging in better planning practices, facilitating business development, and creating targeted economic investment opportunities, the strong cultural identity that exists within these communities will be protected," said Town Manager Marc Orlando.

Orlando said the corporation will continue to take shape over the coming months as the Town begins bringing together the necessary community stakeholders to help get the organization up and running.

Next steps in this process call for Town Council to appoint a dynamic board of directors to oversee and guide the development of the corporation and its organizational objectives. The board will then work with the Town to hire a talented individual to serve as the executive director.

For more information regarding the Gullah-Geechee Historic Neighbors Community Development Corporation, contact Josh Gruber, Deputy Town Manager, at 843-341-4634 or visit https://hiltonheadislandsc.gov/gullahgeecheecdc/.

Contact
Carolyn Grant, Communications Director
843-341-4618
CarolynG@hiltonheadislandsc.gov