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USCB Campus Opens
World of Opportunities for All

March 2019 Mayor David Bennett as seen in Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine

For all, the new University of South Carolina Beaufort's Hilton Head Island campus opens a world of opportunities.

Students who will matriculate at this beautiful facility have access to the most advanced learning environment that will equip them with skills for careers in hospitality management. And because you're never too old to learn, baby boomers can dig into a wide range of subjects through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute that meets at the campus. Our Hilton Head Island Town Council has hosted several meetings at the campus, allowing me to experience its vibrant atmosphere. I must say we really have something to be proud of, especially as I look back over the many months it took to bring this $24 million facility to fruition and remember the dedication and energy of many individuals who worked to make this happen.

We have a longstanding relationship with USCB, which had a presence on the Island many years ago before moving its classes to the mainland. In 2012, the Town partnered with USCB to form the Center for Event Management and Hospitality Training, thus paving the way for USCB's eventual return to Hilton Head Island. At this point, school and Town leaders began talking about the foreseeable future of USCB on the Island and how it could be a boost to an area that needed revitalization. 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 Hilton Head Island. It was a natural fit since many of the USCB 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.

Now, seven years later, we have a beautiful campus that 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. And, in doing so, they expect the highest level of customer service. Enter USCB. There, nestled amidst lush trees on the new Sand Shark Drive off Office Park Road, students will learn how to put their best foot forward and take advantage of exciting internships that our local businesses plan to offer.

This semester, for instance, USCB has partnered with Local Pie, Sea Pines Resort, Palmetto Dunes, The Whiskey Room and Spring Island to help students acquire food and beverage knowledge and skills. Campus Dean Charlie Calvert is working with Chef Miles Huff, Dean of Culinary Institute of the South at Technical College of the Lowcountry (TCL), on an agreement that will allow TCL culinary institute students to transfer to USCB upon completion of their two-year degree.

Another very special benefit is that this new USCB campus is here for the community to use and enjoy. 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. I predict that USCB's new campus, as it welcomes the community of students and learners and serves as host to many wonderful events, will become a central hub for activities on Hilton Head Island.