Senior Medicare Advantage plan insurance in Johns Island, SC

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Helping Seniors Make Better-Informed Medicare Decisions

Trying to pick a health insurance plan can be a chore for anyone. For many people, just mentioning the word "open enrollment" sends shivers down the spine. It seems like there's always a nagging feeling that you're wasting money, choosing a plan with poor in-network care, or both. One would think that health insurance gets easier as you approach retirement age, but the truth is that picking an initial Medicare coverage plan can be daunting.

Unfortunately, the confusing process of signing up for Medicare causes many seniors to forego healthcare coverage altogether. After all, Medicare enrollment can involve several federal agencies, including the Social Security Administration (or SSA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS).

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, our passion is guiding seniors through the confusion of Medicare. That way, they can enjoy retirement with peace of mind knowing they are protected and ready for life after 65. We work with dozens of insurance companies, giving our clients the chance to choose a plan that best fits their lifestyle.

We choose to design our senior insurance plans with a focus on optimal benefits structure, lower costs, and personalized service. Some independent insurance agencies see their aging customers as nothing more than a financial transaction waiting to happen. In contrast, we treat each of our clients with respect and dignity as we help them navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. Combined with individualized service, we help older Americans make well-informed decisions about insurance. Whether you're in need of senior Medicare Supplement Plan insurance in Johns Island or simply have questions about signing up for Medicare, our team is here to help.

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Medicare Johns Island, SC

Guiding You Through The Confusion of Medicare!

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What is Medicare?

If you're approaching the golden years of your life, it's important you understand what Medicare is if you don't already.

Medicare is a federal health insurance program reserved for people older than 65 who have worked full-time for at least ten years. The Medicare program is paid for by a combination of worker payroll tax, premiums paid by Medicare enrollees, and the U.S. government.

There are four parts of Medicare:

 Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Johns Island, SC

This type of Medicare is free for most U.S. citizens. Medicare Part A helps older adults pay for care in a nursing facility, hospital visits, and some forms of in-home senior care.

This tier costs around $100 per month. It covers different outpatient services like lab tests, preventative care, doctor's visits, mental health care, clinical trials, and some forms of surgery.

This type of Medicare is most often called Medicare Advantage. This tier of Medicare allows seniors to choose health plans provided by insurance companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Individuals who use Medicare Advantage commonly use Medicare supplement plan insurance to help pay for health care costs that Original Medicare won't cover, like coinsurance, deductibles, and copayments.

Sometimes called "PDPs," these plans add drug coverage to standard Medicare, some Medicare Private Fee-for-Service Plans (PFFS), some Medicare Cost Plans, and Medicare Medical Savings Account Plans (MSA).

The amount of money you pay for your health care depends on several factors, including:

At Senior Medicare Insurance Services, we offer a number of health insurance solutions for seniors. Two of our most used services include Medicare Advantage plan insurance and Medicare supplement plan insurance.

Senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Johns Island

Sometimes called Medigap, the purpose of Medicare Supplement Insurance is to help fill in "gaps" that might not be covered by Original Medicare. You can think of a Medigap policy as a supplement for your Original Medicare benefits.

Private companies like Senior Medicare Insurance Services sell this type of insurance right here in South Carolina. While Original Medicare will pay for much of the cost associated with health care services you need, it may not cover all of your expenses. Generally, Medigap policies do not cover costs stemming from eyeglasses, private-duty nurses, dental care, hearing aids, or long-term care.

Depending on the Medicare Supplement Plan that you choose, it may cover out-of-the-country medical services when you travel abroad. Assuming you have Original Medicare coverage, your policy will cover its share of Medicare-approved health care costs. Once your Original Medicare coverage reaches its limit, your Medigap policy will pay its share of the fees.

Our Medigap policies are drafted to meet your specific needs, and can help cover remaining health care costs such as:

Deductibles

Copayments

Coinsurance

Important Information About Senior Supplement Plan Insurance

To dispel some confusion, you should know that a Medigap policy is not the same as a Medicare Advantage Plan. The latter helps you receive Medicare benefits, while the former supplements the benefits you obtain through your Original Medicare plan. As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

 Senior Medicare Plans Johns Island, SC

As you begin to explore Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, keep the following important information in mind:

  • To qualify for a Medigap policy, you must first have Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
  • Payments on your Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan will be made to the private insurance company that you choose, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. These payments are made every month and are paid in addition to the monthly payment you make for Medicare Part B.
  • If you are the holder of a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is illegal for an insurance company to sell you a senior Medicare Supplement Policy. If you plan on switching back to an Original Medicare plan, you may be able to purchase a Medigap policy.
  • If you have health problems as you age, your standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed to be renewable. So long as you pay your monthly premium, your insurance provider cannot cancel your policy.
  • Medigap policies only cover one person. If you have a spouse or family member that would like coverage, they must purchase a separate policy.
  • You may only buy a Senior Medicare Supplement Plan from an insurance agent that is licensed to sell them in your state. Senior Medicare Insurance Services has been licensed to sell Medigap policies in South Carolina for years. We have helped countless seniors get the Medicare coverage they need and continue to do so to this day.
  • In the past, Medigap policies were able to cover costs related to prescription drugs. As of January 1st, 2006, prescription drug coverage is not available on Medicare Supplement Plans. The best way to get coverage for your prescription drugs is to join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, often called Part D. Contact our office today to learn more about paying premiums on Medigap and Medicare plans.

For many people, the best time to buy senior Medicare Supplement Plan Insurance in Johns Island is during the 7 months Medigap Open Enrollment Period. This period starts the day you turn 65 years old, so long as you hold Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B). Generally, during the enrollment period, you get more policy choices and better pricing. Once the enrollment period is over, you may not be able to purchase a Medigap policy. Contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services today to determine if you qualify for a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan.

Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance in Johns Island, SC

A Medicare Advantage Plan is a kind of Medicare health coverage designed to provide seniors with all their Part A and Part B Medicare benefits. Many Medicare Advantage Plans will often include coverage of the following:

 Medicare Plans Johns Island, SC

In addition, most Medicare Advantage Plans give seniors coverage for their prescription drug needs. When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan through Senior Medicare Insurance Services, your Medicare benefits are covered through your plan and will not be paid for by traditional Medicare.

How Medicare Advantage Plans Work

Sometimes called "MA Plans" or "Part C," Medicare Advantage Plans are considered an "all in one" solution to Original Medicare. Senior Medicare Advantage Plans are only offered by private companies that are approved, like Senior Medicare Insurance Services. Seniors who enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan are still on Medicare. However, these individuals enjoy bundled plans that give seniors the benefits of hospital insurance (Medicare Part A), medical insurance (Medicare Part B), and sometimes drug coverage (Part D).

Medicare Advantage Plans are very popular because they cover all Medicare services and make life a little easier for seniors who have trouble understanding the nuances of Medicare.

When you contact Senior Medicare Insurance Services to choose your Medicare Advantage Plan, ask your agent about Medicare prescription drug coverage. Unless you already have drug coverage (Part D), you should seriously consider Part D coverage to help reduce costs associated with prescription drugs. You may also want to consider a Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan to help fill gaps in coverage that Original Medicare will not cover.

 Senior Health Insurance Johns Island, SC

Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance Rules

Medicare works by paying a set amount of money to the companies that offer senior Medicare Advantage Plan insurance in Johns Island. That money is used to pay for the care services that you need. Because Medicare Advantage Plans are different, you should expect out-of-pocket costs to vary depending on the plan you choose.

Different plans have different rules for how you receive services, such as:

  • If you must go to facilities, suppliers, or doctors that belong to your Advantage Plan for non-urgent and non-emergency care.
  • Whether you must get a referral to see a specialized doctor
 Healthcare Johns Island, SC

Companies that offer Medicare Advantage Plans must follow strict rules, which are set by Medicare and can change every year.

Paying for Your Senior Medicare Advantage Plan Insurance

How much you pay for your Medicare Advantage Plan varies and depends on a few different factors. In most cases, if you need a kind of medical service, you will need to rely on the doctors and providers in your plan's service area and network to pay the lowest amounts. In some cases, if you choose to use a service outside of your plan's network of coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket.

We encourage you to contact our office today to learn more about Medicare Advantage Plans, how they work, what your options are, and how often you will have to pay out-of-pocket, if at all.

 Burial Insurance Johns Island, SC

The Senior Medicare Insurance Services Commitment

Since our company was founded, we have led the insurance industry by providing our clients with the most valuable, helpful insurance solutions available. We are fully committed to our current and prospective clients by:

  • Choosing to focus on personalized, one-on-one service. When you work with our team, know that we will always design your health insurance plan with your best interests in mind.
  • Listening to your specific needs.
  • Responding to all inquiries and questions promptly and with a friendly attitude.
  • Providing you with the best customer service in the senior health insurance industry, whether you have questions or are ready to move forward with a Medicare plan.
 Medicare Advantage Johns Island, SC

Our mission is to help give seniors the best Medicare assistance available so that they may understand the Medicare process and make an informed health coverage decision. We have the knowledge, skills, and experience to assist anyone interested in Medicare. Our personal goal is to become a lifetime resource for our clients and give them greater confidence in choosing their insurance plans.

Latest News in Johns Island, SC

Downtown Charleston church building to be repurposed as cycling studio

A downtown Charleston building that once housed a historically Black congregation will soon be repurposed as a cycling studio.The building at 48 Alexander St. is in what used to be the predominantly African American neighborhood of Ansonborough. The owner of Jibe Cycling Studio said she plans to keep the integrity of the once sacred space.Jibe currently has a temporary location on Rutledge Avenue and anticipates moving into the new location in the fall.On the rapidly gentrifying Charleston peninsula, a number of historic...

A downtown Charleston building that once housed a historically Black congregation will soon be repurposed as a cycling studio.

The building at 48 Alexander St. is in what used to be the predominantly African American neighborhood of Ansonborough. The owner of Jibe Cycling Studio said she plans to keep the integrity of the once sacred space.

Jibe currently has a temporary location on Rutledge Avenue and anticipates moving into the new location in the fall.

On the rapidly gentrifying Charleston peninsula, a number of historically Black houses of worship that once served thriving Black communities have relocated. This has been the case with Greater Macedonia AME, which left behind its Alexander Street building in 2018 to build a new, larger church in West Ashley.

Joanna Pease, the owner of Jibe and a newcomer to the Charleston area, said she can’t speak much about the demographic changes that have occurred downtown. However, the goal for Alexander Street building is to keep much of the space intact.

There will obviously be alterations. The exterior of the building will be painted and the inside will be gutted to make space for 45 bikes. The high church ceilings will allow for a second floor to be added to accommodate a lounge area.

However, the building itself will remain. This comes years after the facility was approved in 2018 by the Board of Architectural Review to be demolished, even after opposition from some of the membership. Also, a few of the church’s stained glass windows will be kept, Pease said.

“We’re trying to do our best to keep the integrity of the building and honor what it was,” Pease said.

This is not Jibe’s first time repurposing an old building. The studio’s two other sites, both in Maine, are repurposed structures. One is in an old department store building and the other is in a former McDonald’s restaurant.

Pease said she loves the idea of reusing an old church building because of its open interior, as opposed to being a facility with multiple columns and other structural elements. She added that houses of worship provide a sense of joy and spirituality that could be transferred to cycling sessions.

“We have riders all the time who say they don’t necessarily go to church, but riding is their church,” she said. “It’s a way to connect with yourself.”

The community welcomes the idea of repurposing the old facility. Angela Drake, president of the Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, said it’s a good way to preserve the historic nature of the neighborhood.

Like elsewhere in downtown Charleston, the demographics of Ansonborough have changed drastically over the past few decades. This came to a head last month when Ansonborough’s last African American property owners sold their home.

The loss of the Black population played a major role in Macedonia’s decision to relocate, said Pastor Lawrence Gordon. The church began to make preparations to leave the peninsula amid declining membership and limited parking. Many of the church’s parishioners were no longer commuting from nearby residences.

“Most of the members were traveling from Summerville, James Island, Johns Island, North Charleston, Goose Creek,” Gordon said.

Now located on Savage Road, the church has adequate parking, and more space to hold programs.

“We have more opportunities now for ministries,” Gordon said.

Black congregations located in gentrifying neighborhoods are faced with difficult decisions when determining their futures. Like Greater Macedonia, several congregations on the peninsula have opted to leave for new locations in West Ashley, North Charleston and elsewhere.

Others have opted to stay.

The membership at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, once a predominantly Black congregation, had been dwindling until the church opted to integrate in 1987.

But integration came with a cost.

The church’s membership was at first 50 percent White and 50 percent African American in the late ’80s. Today, the mostly White congregation is about 12 percent African American, said the Rev. Adam Shoemaker, who wrote a dissertation on Ansonborough’s integration.

Shoemaker agreed that integration within churches can oftentimes result in the loss of Black culture worship styles. This might be why African American congregations opt instead to leave gentrifying communities, he said.

“It creates stark existential choices for congregations when the neighborhood changes,” Shoemaker said.

Fall Festivals & Foliage: Why Charleston Is The Perfect Autumn City

There is something special about Charleston; imagine strolling along the beautiful cobblestone alleys or strolling the gas lamp-lit streets, or even touring the quaint mansions. Whether one is looking for a family vacation or a small romantic break, Charleston is a favorite vacation destination among avid travelers looking to experience the southern charm. Love birds can imagine boating its sublime rivers and waterways. While history and culture buffs can think of visiting its museums or art galleries. And food lovers can count on its restau...

There is something special about Charleston; imagine strolling along the beautiful cobblestone alleys or strolling the gas lamp-lit streets, or even touring the quaint mansions. Whether one is looking for a family vacation or a small romantic break, Charleston is a favorite vacation destination among avid travelers looking to experience the southern charm. Love birds can imagine boating its sublime rivers and waterways. While history and culture buffs can think of visiting its museums or art galleries. And food lovers can count on its restaurants that offer traditional local dishes in an innovative way.

THETRAVEL VIDEO OF THE DAY

It goes without saying that autumn makes for a perfect time to explore this charming city, where seasoned travelers will get to see its landscapes come alive with a kaleidoscope of color. This is the time to sip a pumpkin latte and see bald cypress and maple trees turn red or orange. Apart from these pleasant discoveries, learn more about why Charleston is the perfect autumn city to travel to in the fall.

Why Travel To Charleston In The Fall?

A post shared by Sarah Stewart (@sunflowers_in_her_eyes)

While most of the US states are already experiencing their fall season in mid-September, Charleston, on the other hand, has its fall a little late. Around the end of October and early November, Charleston’s temperature drops from 50 to 70 Fahrenheit. It’s the best time to see the changing foliage and enjoy the crisp fall air. And it is also a perfect time to visit several of its attractions and restaurants if one wants to skip the crowds, high humidity, and price.

Known for being an epicenter for historic buildings and graveyards, Charleston is an ideal holiday spot to enjoy the spooky season. From its century-old plantations to its landscaped gardens, there are so many attractions to visit during the fall.

Best Place To See The Foliage In Charleston

Visitors usually call Charleston the evergreen city since many of the trees remain mostly green. One might occasionally see some brown or yellow leaves while walking on the street. Just like Maine’s gorgeous Acadia National Park, Charleston has its fall in October, unlike Vermont or Massachusetts, where visitors normally see the riotous colors of autumn by mid-September. But there are some specific attractions where visitors will be able to feast their eyes on the vibrant fall leaves.

Often dubbed as America’s oldest garden, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is the most recommended place to visit during fall in Charleston. The historic estate is beautifully tucked into the Ashley River, where many will get to marvel at the beautiful, well-manicured gardens filled with pansies, azaleas, snapdragons, and Sasanqua camellias. The attraction was once used as a rice plantation, whereby African slaves were brought here to work. Then later in the 19th century, the estate opened its doors to the public. Currently, the attraction is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Visitors who wish to learn more about this historic estate will be able to book guided tours, which normally include a visit to the plantation house, then there is the slavery to freedom tour, and the self-guided tour at the Audubon Swamp Garden. The whole tour of the estate can take around four to five hours.

Charleston Fall Festivals And Tours

Fall is usually a much-anticipated season in Charleston. It is when visitors and locals alike have the chance to enjoy the rampant fall decor across the city with some spooky touches such as pumpkins, spider webs, and skeletons. And during this time, there are many fall festivals and tours to look forward to.

For a family-friendly event, consider attending the largest fall festivals in the city at Boone Hall Pumpkin Patch, where many can celebrate the autumn tradition on the farm. There are plenty of fun things such as rock climbing, complimentary balloon art, a Halloween tractor tour, an 8-acre of corn maze, pony rides, exhibitions, and more

Celebrate the harvest festival at the sublime Mullet Hall Equestrian Center on Johns Island, bestowed by a magnificent landscape. Here, visitors will be able to bask in the wonderful views of the unspoiled meadows, equestrian barns, farm fields, and pine trees. The annual harvest festival occurs in November with lots of fun. Expect to listen to live bluegrass music, eat delicious food like the local barbecue, and of course, see lots of pumpkin decorations.

Wine lovers will also be able to attend the Charleston Fall Wine Festival in October at Charleston Harbor Cruise Terminal. This adult-only event will have a plethora of delicious wine, beer samples, and live music.

'Champion for Hispanic heritage' embraces diversity, equity and inclusion efforts at MUSC

When public health scientist Hermes Florez, M.D., Ph.D., decided to move from Miami, where Latinos are the majority, to Charleston, where they make up a much smaller percentage of the population, some friends were surprised.“A lot of my former mentors said, ‘Are you sure that that's the right move for you? And I said, ‘Why not? It's a great opportunity.’ There are a lot of misconceptions about the de...

When public health scientist Hermes Florez, M.D., Ph.D., decided to move from Miami, where Latinos are the majority, to Charleston, where they make up a much smaller percentage of the population, some friends were surprised.

“A lot of my former mentors said, ‘Are you sure that that's the right move for you? And I said, ‘Why not? It's a great opportunity.’ There are a lot of misconceptions about the deep South. I realized that Charleston is quite diverse and you really can embrace those values.”

Florez, born in Venezuela, is proud to be part of that diversity. “I am very honored to be a champion for Hispanic heritage,” he said, as the nation prepared to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Florez brings that sensibility to his role as chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina, where he works to improve the health of people of all backgrounds.

“I fully embrace diversity, equity and inclusion in the Department of Public Health Sciences and the College of Medicine’s initiatives. I’ve had the opportunity to address some of the challenges that the Hispanic community has for access to care with my work at the free medical clinic on Johns Island and for the prevention and management of diseases that are more prevalent in Hispanics such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Florez, an endocrinologist, volunteers at the Barrier Islands Free Medical Clinic on Fridays. He also sees patients at the Ralph H. Johnson Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. That’s on top of his busy schedule leading the public health sciences department, where he has overseen important changes during his first two years.

“The department has stepped up to the plate to fulfill its academic mission. We have gone through the accreditation of our public health program, national accreditation with the Council of Education for Public Health. We have also improved in our ranking on NIH funding,” Florez said, referring to the National Institutes of Health. The NIH funds research through grants to institutions such as MUSC.

“We moved from No. 20 in public health funding from the NIH nationwide to No. 16. That’s a great team effort. I'm not taking credit except that I'm a cheerleader I promote and provide any resources that we have at the chair's office.”

He’s currently waiting to hear if the NIH will fund a proposal to enhance MUSC’s recruitment of minority faculty in biomedical research. “This is going to be a $10 million of energy investment for our faculty across all the colleges. This was an initiative with all the deans expressing support for great research team from different clusters,” Florez said.

“We have the cancer and inflammation. We have the aging and neuroscience. We have cardio metabolic health, and also the population health and data science, unique strengths that we have in MUSC. And I was blessed to be part of the team leading the efforts for a successful submission. So hopefully in a few months, we'll see the response. But I said to the team, regardless of whether we get the funding, I'm willing to invest $1 million on my chair package toward that.”

Florez is also trying to get young more people from minority groups interested in public health science. “We go to the high schools here. You go to the community. You incentivize them. You say, you have the opportunity to participate in topnotch research at MUSC and obviously with other academic partners across the state then you sort of nurture them through college, and then eventually they will come hopefully to any of these colleges in MUSC and maybe do graduate studies, postgraduate training, and then the pipeline for minority faculty. And then we have the critical mass.”

Florez said his department is already expanding its programs, preparing to offer a master of public health degree online and a certificate in population health. “Those are among the ways to address the needs of the workforce training in South Carolina and beyond.”

Public health science involves preventing diseases, helping people live longer and improving health by addressing environmental threats. It uses a combination of epidemiology, biostatistics and health services to achieve those goals. Florez has a strategy to bring together more experts in those areas. “We're building the team, addressing the needs on environmental health and all these different omics: genomics, metabolomics, you name it.”

As he builds that team, he’s leading by example. “It is important to give the opportunity to minority faculty, staff, students and community partners to appreciate that one of their own, in this case a Hispanic public health physician scientist, can respond to the call to serve as a leader.”

MUSC’s new chair of public health sciences is honored to appear on national list of inspiring Hispanic/Latinx scientists.

My Charleston Weekend: Goodbye summer

This Labor Day weekend is full of exciting concerts, dances and the outdoors. Check out the Lowcountry Jazz Festival, shag on Edisto, and enjoy concerts at Johns Island County Park and at The Joe to say goodbye to summer.Toast Under the OaksCelebrate the end of summer under the oaks at Johns Island County Park. Enjoy live music and food trucks on Sept. 1 and 15 from 5-7 p.m. This week’s performer is Charleston local Grace Trice, and food is provided by Kees Kitchen and Mac Daddy. No outside food and drinks are allowed, ...

This Labor Day weekend is full of exciting concerts, dances and the outdoors. Check out the Lowcountry Jazz Festival, shag on Edisto, and enjoy concerts at Johns Island County Park and at The Joe to say goodbye to summer.

Toast Under the Oaks

Celebrate the end of summer under the oaks at Johns Island County Park. Enjoy live music and food trucks on Sept. 1 and 15 from 5-7 p.m. This week’s performer is Charleston local Grace Trice, and food is provided by Kees Kitchen and Mac Daddy. No outside food and drinks are allowed, but leashed dogs are; guests are encouraged to bring chairs and tables. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

To purchase tickets online, go to bit.ly/3wERBrU.

Lowcountry Jazz Festival

Come out to the Charleston Gaillard Center and listen to stellar jazz performances while helping raise money for a good cause. From Sept. 2-4, proceeds from the Jazz Festival will go to Closing the Gap in Health Care Inc. and the Thaddeus John Bell, M.D. Endowment Fund for students pursuing a career in health science. The festival starts with a white party on Sept. 2 at the Gaillard’s Center Grand Ballroom followed by two days of smooth jazz on Sept. 3-4. Performers include Robert Glasper, Norman Brown and Marcus Miller, among others.

Tickets for the festival start at $68 plus fees, and white party tickets must be purchased separately. To purchase tickets for the event, go to bit.ly/3Tuoodd.

Shag Festival

Shag the day away at the Edisto Beach Shag Festival. From Sept. 2-4 listen to some of the top beach bands, watch the best shaggers in the Southeast show off their skills, shop arts and craft vendors, get a shag lesson and more at Bay Creek Park on Edisto. Daily entrance costs $15, or you can get a weekend pass for $40.

To view the events happening each day as well as the hours, go to bit.ly/3AWzOzd. To purchase tickets online, visit bit.ly/3PYXyqr.

Labor Day concert

The city of Charleston is making up for it’s canceled Fourth of July celebration with a special free-to-attend Labor Day concert featuring the Charleston Symphony at Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park. Gates open at 6 p.m. Sept. 5, and the symphony starts at 8 p.m. Stick around after the music for food and a free fireworks show.

While the event is free, advanced reservations are needed. You can book them at bit.ly/3TpvijP.

Tuffy the Tiger

If you’re looking for a free family event, head over to the Flowertown Players the first Saturday of each month through February for Tuffy the Tiger. The live action puppet-based performances encourage positive life lessons through the use of the orange Tuffy the Tiger.

The performances are 30 minutes; afterward, children can make their own puppets and have a chance to meet Tuffy. Showtime is at 11 a.m. and reservations can be made at flowertownplayers.org/services-4.

Flying car company from Japan sets up Beaufort office. Will others ‘land’ in the Lowcountry?

A Japan-based company that’s developing flying cars — yes, flying cars — has set up a temporary office in Beaufort as it explores entry into the U.S. market.SkyDrive, backed by venture capital from some of Japan’s largest brands, is just one of several international companies checking out Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea, as it’s known, thanks to a new office hub called the Landing Pad...

A Japan-based company that’s developing flying cars — yes, flying cars — has set up a temporary office in Beaufort as it explores entry into the U.S. market.

SkyDrive, backed by venture capital from some of Japan’s largest brands, is just one of several international companies checking out Beautiful Beaufort by the Sea, as it’s known, thanks to a new office hub called the Landing Pad that companies can use for free while they develop their sea legs in unfamiliar waters and consider dropping anchor in U.S. markets.

But SkyDrive, a Tokyo-based aero-tech start-up, might offer the most intriguing product of the bunch.

Since 2018, in Japan, SkyDrive has been developing electric vehicle take-off and landing vehicles, or EVTOLs, along with cargo-carrying drones, William Fugate, SkyDrive’s U.S. business development manager, told the Beaufort Gazette and Island Packet from his Beaufort office.

It all may sound like something out of the 1982 science fiction movie “Blade Runner,” which featured fictional flying cars.

But SkyDrive has already developed a zero-emission, two-seat flying car for real, with vertical take-off and landing capability. It’s the only company in Japan, it says, that’s successfully conducted manned test flights. It’s now in the process of getting its latest model certified by Japan regulators. It plans to unveil that model in the World Expo 2025 in Osaka. Commercial sales could follow in 2026.

“People,” Fugate says, “don’t realize how fast it’s coming.”

SkyDrive is one of about 100 firms involved in the research and development of EVTOLs worldwide, says Fugate, and “we’re kind of Japan’s foothold in that market.”

How quickly the flying vehicles enter the air space will depend on infrastructure such as landing areas, electric charging stations, air traffic management, FAA approval and other aspects, says Fugate, and those are the types of issues it’s investigating from its new office in Beaufort.

One of the biggest drivers of the flying vehicles, Fugate says, is the Biden administration’s goals to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

“It will create a lot of jobs,” Fugate says, “once these ecosystems are in place.”

Future models eventually could be manufactured in the United States, he says.

For now, SkyDrive hasn’t committed to setting up operations in Beaufort.

But the hope is that once companies like it experience the services offered through the Landing Pad program, and get a taste of life in the Lowcountry, it will position Beaufort County well when future decisions are made on investments, such as where to locate headquarters and research and development or manufacturing facilities, creating new jobs and tax bases.

“We think if we treat people well,” says John O’Toole, executive director of Beaufort County Economic Development Corp., “they will fall in love with Beaufort.”

The Landing Pad is a collaboration between Beaufort County Economic Development, the city of Beaufort, the Southern Carolina Regional Development Alliance and others.

The mission of the program is to assist companies from around the world that are considering investing in the region for the first time.

First, a free physical location is provided where companies can “land” — the second-floor offices at 500 Carteret St. for up to 90 days — as they explore local markets or transition into them.

Through the program, local economic development and city officials also work with the companies on a host of issues that can be overwhelming in a new market. They include connecting them with experts who can discuss legal, tax, accounting, human resources and other issues.

“Any question they will want answers to,” O’Toole says, “we’ve got firms to step up and offer pro bono services.”

SkyDrive is the first company to take advantage of the Landing Pad, which Beaufort Mayor Stephen Murray calls “pretty darn exciting.”

“It’s a very cool company,” Murray says.

The Landing Pad is a place where international firms can establish a presence and build confidence in the region before making significant investments, says Murray. The coastal city of 13,400, he says, is working to attract “advanced manufacturing” companies that create “primary jobs,” and the Landing Pad is an important tool in the effort to diversify the economy.

“It sets us apart from a lot of other areas,” he says.

Up until now, SkyDrive has focused on the domestic market in Japan. It’s already selling drones that can transport cargo. The company is in the research and development phase of EVTOL aircraft. Now that it has what it considers to be a globally viable product, Fugate says, it’s broadening its focus to international markets with its initial focus on the United States.

Today, most of the EVTOL market is developing what Fugate describes as larger aircraft vehicles that could travel between cities. He compares them to buses. SkyDrive is taking a more conservative approach and developing smaller vehicles — he likens them to taxis — that could be used within a city. Pilots would taxi passengers with the means to pay for the convenience and speed. It would be kind of like booking an Uber driver, he says, possibly even using a phone app.

When he first learned of the flying cars, Charlie Stone, a BCED project manager, says he immediately thought of the “Jetsons,” the 1960s animated cartoon in which the family’s mode of transportation was a flying sports car.

But SkyDrive isn’t the only international company producing interesting products that is interested in landing in Beaufort.

BCED officials have also had conversations with representatives of a company from Sweden that makes electric trucks, an autonomous delivery car manufacturer based in Estonia, and a Great Britain battery manufacturer with offices in Toronto, about using the Land Pad services.

BCED officials also are talking to a Finnish electric vehicle automotive supplier. “I think it’s a pretty dang good lead for us,” Stone says of the company, “and they seem interested.”

Skydrive’s Fugate connected with the BCED officials through the Japan External Trade Organization, a Japanese government-related organization that promotes trade and investment relations.

Fugate came over from Japan to Beaufort and met with local officials on a scouting mission. Fugate is originally from the U.S. but has lived in Japan for 30 years.

“They exceeded all of our expectations in almost every way,” he said of the Landing Pad.

He returned to Japan and presented the idea to the board of directors, which includes investors such as Suzuki Motor Corporation, the Japanese multinational corporation.

“I’ve been given the green light to start building our office here and that’s why I’m here now,” Fugate says.

The firm’s entrance into the U.S. market will be through Beaufort or the surrounding area, he says.

When Fugate arrived, he found the flag of Japan, with its distinctive red circle on a white backdrop, hanging on the wall, along with the stars and stripes.

“It’s a great town,” Fugate says.

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