Mount Pleasant Magazine July/August 2022

40 www. ReadMPM. com | www.MountPl easantMagaz i ne. com | www.MountPl easantPodcas t . com It’s been called an attraction to local business, a boon to local hospitality and a way to connect to local residents. On Jan. 28, 2022, barely six weeks after their initial meeting, a handful of business owners on the Isle of Palms launched a new Chamber of Commerce— not only to have a singular voice in local government but to create the most perceptible way of branding the island’s distinct ecosystem to visitors and businesses. So far, the young Chamber is not only gaining support and members but could set new standards for how Charleston County and other parts of the Lowcountry can rebound the tourism industry in the wake of COVID-19. “Our economy on the Isle of Palms is unique—mostly hospitality driven and an international destination,” said First-Year Chamber President Katrina Limbach, co-owner of the Isle of Palms Beach Chair Company. “And the critical idea in creating this new Chamber is to have something in place in which we can balance sustainable tourism for any time of year.” For example, the Isle of Palms measures only 4.4 square miles with a current population of around 4,400. There is currently no viable way for the island to grow any more land. But Limbach pointed out that the island’s population “quadruples during three months of the year,” and that visitor demand for the island’s vacation rentals, hospitality services and restaurants keeps growing every year. “We want visitors to come here, but what’s been missing is something to sustain our island charm,” she said. “If we just grow too big and become overrun and crowded, residents will leave and visitors won’t return year after year.” The president emphasized that the new Chamber of Commerce has a rare opportunity to serve not just as a local business network, like most Chambers do, but as a hospitality conduit and go-to guide for all of the island’s visitors. “One of my first-year goals for us is to create a professionally developed website that highlights all that the island has to offer to neighbors and guests,” Limbach said. A Chamber of Commerce for IOP New Opportunities for Island Living, Tourism and Business BY L . C . LEACH I I I