Blakely and Blair Williams: Think globally, act locally

By Lanier Laney

Both Blakely and Blair Williams have family roots deep in South Carolina’s local history. Blakely comes from generations of family in Clinton, SC where she grew up as the Mayor’s daughter. And Blair’s family is from Charleston where he spent his youth hunting and fishing with his brother and grandfather among the vast network of creeks and streams along the ocean in the Lowcountry.

After being “set up” on a blind date eight years ago, they married and decided to stay local, moving to Beaufort in 2007 where Blakely became in charge of Member Services for the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Blair worked for the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) in Environmental Quality Control, where he spent time analyzing water quality and enforcing the laws that protect the Lowcountry’s pristine aquatic environment.

Today Blair manages a staff of nine, providing oversight in the wetlands division of DHEC’s Office of Coastal Resource Management. He administers the permits and state certifications that call for modifications to critical areas such as the coastal waters, tidelands, beaches and freshwater wetlands. It’s Blair’s job to think “globally” because what happens across the oceans—whether at an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico or a reactor in Japan—can potentially negatively impact the quality of our local water. To help prevent any more of those “worst case scenarios” in the future, Blair now serves on a State-appointed regulatory task force that explores alternative energies, including offshore and wind options.

Blakley also thinks “globally” in her strong commitment to attracting tourists (and their dollars) to Beaufort businesses. Many Canadian tourists are in town this time of year; and just the other day there was a whole group of Danish tourists walking around downtown buying from the shops and eating in the restaurants. “Tourism marketing is a creative, tangible way to promote the place that we all call home. Our Chamber recently restructured our organization to attract more people to travel to our Beaufort region, fall in love with Beaufort and maybe even relocate,” said Blakely.

She was appointed President of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce in June and has since pursued a strong agenda helping improve the business environment in Beaufort:

“Beginning my Chamber career in the Member Services Department, I strongly believe in taking care of our members. Recruiting and retaining memberships in the business community is a fun and challenging job. As the designated marketing organization, accountability is the name of the game. Taking care of the local business community from an advocacy point of view is important too. I also believe it’s paramount that we diversify the economic base with new businesses. Having a business-friendly community, ready for new opportunities is our vision. It is certainly my pleasure to work with talented and competent folks every day. We have an amazing team and they make it a fun, stimulating place to work”.

What they like about Beaufort

Both Blakely and Blair love the small town feel, the water, the view and most importantly the people of Beaufort and say they can’t imagine being anywhere else. They are happy to be raising the newest member of their family here. “We have the most darling daughter, Quinn. She will be two in February and is the absolute best part of our lives,” said Blakely.

Thanks to Blair’s commitment to protecting what’s been called “America’s cleanest estuaries” and Blakely’s commitment to helping build a strong economic base for Beaufort in its upcoming years, they will help ensure that Quinn and her children and their children can continue to enjoy the same great quality of life that we all do today.

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