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Hilton Head Island SC

Magical marshlands
This sea of undulating grass and water hides wildlife from all but those who choose to glide among the ribbons of water. Near Hilton Head Island, visitors and residents appreciate this terrain, and visit often.
Photo credit: Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation |

Hilton Head Island is known globally as a world-class destination for leisure travelers and retirees. The Island, which is approximately 12 miles long and five miles wide, is the second largest barrier island on the East Coast.

The Town of Hilton Head Island, which encompasses virtually all of the island, was incorporated in 1983, and it has a permanent population exceeding 40,000 full-time residents, making it South Carolina’s ninth largest municipality. With over 2.5 million visitors annually, the town has differentiated itself by offering world-class amenities to visitors, residents, and businesses while protecting the island’s abundant natural resources and creating an understated architectural aesthetic that blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings of the Lowcountry.

There are a number of award-winning restaurants, including The Jazz Corner, which provides an intimate setting and fabulous entertainment with your dinner. (Save room for the Butterscotch Crème Brulee – divine.) Italian food lovers will enjoy Ombra Cucina Rustica, another award-winning delight, with homemade limoncello to please your palate.

Because of its temperate climate, the Town of Hilton Head Island attracts visitors year-round for sun, fun and relaxation. Hilton Head is renowned as a destination for golf, tennis, boating, fishing, cycling, paddling and beach activities during all seasons of the year. Shopping is excellent, with world-class galleries and unique shops. The Town of Hilton Head Island also attracts the best and brightest as permanent residents, and the community offers a vast array of educational, civic and philanthropic opportunities for those seeking community engagement.

John and Roxanne Joseph personify the type of executive talent who resides in the Town. After visiting Hilton Head Island as vacationers more than 25 years ago, they knew it was where they wanted to live. When Mr. Joseph concluded his career as an industrial engineer and management consultant, he and his wife moved from Chicago in 2000. Both quickly became engaged in a wide range of social, recreational and public service activities. (The recreation on Hilton Head Island is broad-based, with world-renowned tennis courts, excellent golf courses, biking trails and all types of water sports.)

The Josephs are avid tennis players, and both became involved in numerous tennis teams and tournaments. He taught kayaking, and both became active in in the Palmetto Dunes community, where he served on the Property Owners Association board of directors. Mr. Joseph was also elected as a commissioner of the Broad Creek Public Service District, and he was appointed by the Hilton Head Island Town Council to the board of the Hilton Head Island Economic Development Corporation. Mrs. Joseph busied herself as an aerobics instructor, teaching classes on alternate days at three different clubs.

Although Hilton Head Island’s global brand has been built around livability, it is also an attractive business destination. Like the Josephs, many visitors fall in love with the area, and there is often a progression that follows: from frequent visitor to property owner to full-time resident operating a business. With technology enabling many businesses to locate wherever the business owner wishes to live, many business owners are choosing to move, together with their businesses, to Hilton Head Island.

Businesses include home-based and small businesses, as well as companies selling goods and services both nationally and internationally. Increasingly, companies are building teams of remotely based professionals, and Hilton Head Island is home to workers who work remotely from their homes or local offices. Other business owners are choosing to relocate their companies to the area.

Charlene Riikonen and her late husband Esko moved Cera Products, a manufacturer of oral rice-based rehydration products, from Maryland to Hilton Head Island in 2010. Mrs. Riikonen founded Cera Products in 1993 to combat the impacts of deadly diseases like cholera, and her company quickly expanded into a global enterprise. Cera Products’ customer base now includes the U.S. military, endurance athletes, and many of the nation’s leading hospitals.

The couple could have located their headquarters operation anywhere, since their manufacturing and distribution facilities were already established across the United States, and they chose to move to the island. “After many trips to locations in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, we decided that Hilton Head Island offered what we wanted,” said Mrs. Riikonen.

She added, “And, I love walking my dog on the beach.” How many business owners can say that?

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