BEAUFORT, S.C. (March 24, 2021) – At its annual retreat held March 22-23, City of Beaufort elected officials, administrators, and department managers reviewed the City’s 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, its short-term and longer-term capital projects, and an early draft of a new Comprehensive Plan.
The retreat, at the Best Western Sea Island Inn in downtown Beaufort, was the first held under the new tenure of Mayor Stephen Murray and with new Councilmen Neil Lipsitz and Mitch Mitchell. Councilmen Phil Cromer and Mike McFee, veterans of the Strategic Plan process, also attended.
Mayor Murray said that he viewed the City’s responsibilities through the prism of today – quality and value-driven services to City residents and others, and tomorrow. “How do we shape the change that is coming,” he asked.
The City’s Strategic Plan covers four key areas: Economic Development & Innovation; A Safe & Vibrant City; Growth & Natural Resources; and Organizational Excellence. During the retreat, the plan was tweaked to add some new initiatives and remove those that had been accomplished.
Among the accomplishments since July 1, 2020:
- Leveraging partnerships including Beaufort County Economic Development Corporation and others in recruitment of new businesses to Beaufort. GlassWrx is in the process of retrofitting a building Beaufort Commerce Park, and other prospects are looking at the Commerce Park. The City will also be investing in a spec building at the Commerce Park.
- Launch of South Coast Cyber Center to build out career pathways to diversify City’s economy
- Increase in building permits and related revenue compared to a four-year average
- Major work on the Mossy Oaks Stormwater Drainage Project, which is nearing completion
- Hurricane shutters on The Arsenal and Carnegie Library
- Launch of a Data & Transparency webpage for Police Department
- New non-lethal use-of-force tactics training in Police Department
- Reaccreditation of Police Department by South Carolina Police Accreditation Coalition
- Extensive EMT training in Fire Department
- New playground at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park
- New playground at Washington Street Park
- Installation of art benches throughout downtown
- Working with local businesses to adapt to tourism and visitors’ needs during Covid, including a new ordinance allowing golf cart tours
- Maintaining vibrancy of downtown during Covid-19 restrictions through partnerships with various stakeholders; reimagining holidays such at Halloween with Drive-Thru trick-or-treat and virtual visits with Santa
Additionally, staff in Community and & Economic Development Department made advances in streamlining development application processes and reviews, and providing training to members of various boards such as Design Review Board and Historic District Review Board. Human Resources staff began customer service training for new employees. New communications initiatives were launched, including a City page of the NextDoor social media application, and a reformatted monthly newsletter.
Charlie Barrineau, field services manager at the Municipal Association of South Carolina, facilitated the retreat.