Secret Service to Businesses: Business as Usual During G-8 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/16/04

Secret Service to Businesses: Business as Usual During G-8

In less than than two months, world leaders and the world's attention will be focused on the Golden Isles when the G-8 summit comes to Sea Island. Still, area residents and businesses aren't sure what to expect. Today on St. Simon's Island, the Secret Service met with local businesses and residents at the chamber of commerce luncheon to keep them informed.

People say they know the G-8 summit will have a long-term impact on them, but what they're trying to find out is how the summit will affect their daily lives and livelihoods.

Saint Simon's Island is home for John and Rhonda Howton and their restaurant, the Blackwater Grill. But they're eager to know what the G-8 Summit will mean for their business and the customers who dine with them every night.

"Our local customers are the ones we're concerned about because we do have a lot of local customers, and if they leave that will be a problem," said John. "But we are telling them we're going to be open and it's business as usual."

That's exactly what the Secret Service and local law enforcement say they want to see. "We are not asking anyone to close any business, shut down any parties, functions or events for reasons of security," said the agency's Dave Wilkinson.

Still, there will be effects. Waterways will be restricted. Mt. McKinnon Airport will be shut down during the summit, so dignitaries can be brought in. Commercial airlines will not be affected.

One of the biggest concerns for both residents and business owners like John and Rhonda Howton are the traffic delays that are expected along with the G-8 Summit. "We're going to have deliveries," said Rhonda. "We don't know if the local people are staying or not, which of course, they wouldn't know anyway, so it's still kind of up in the air as for what it's going to do for our business."

The Howtons know it's risky, but it's business. "It's most definitely a gamble. Nobody has any idea what's can happen."

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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