Hitt will con­tinue as SC sec­re­tary of com­merce, Gov. McMaster says

The State - - Business - BY TOM BARTON tbar­[email protected]­tate.com Tom Barton: 803-771- 8304, @tjbar­ton83

Hav­ing won his first full term on a cam­paign tout­ing job gains and eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster on Thurs­day said Bobby Hitt will con­tinue serv­ing as S.C. sec­re­tary of com­merce.

Hitt, a for­mer BMW ex­ec­u­tive and manag­ing ed­i­tor at The State, was ap­pointed by for­mer Gov. Nikki Ha­ley in 2011.

Hitt was Ha­ley’s first cab­i­net pick, a sign, she said at the time, that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment was her ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top pri­or­ity. McMaster has em­braced that pri­or­ity and sought to strengthen it.

Since tak­ing of­fice in Jan­uary 2017, McMaster has an­nounced busi­nesses plan to make more than $8 bil­lion in cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in the state, cre­at­ing 25,000 jobs.

“I am grate­ful that he will con­tinue to work with me in build­ing on the suc­cesses our state has ex­pe­ri­enced and take those ef­forts to even greater heights,” McMaster said in a state­ment. “Every job we’re able to an­nounce makes a dif­fer­ence in some­one’s life, and that will al­ways mo­ti­vate Sec­re­tary Hitt and I to work every day to bring com­pa­nies, big and small, to our state and take care of them when they get here so they can thrive and grow here.”

Hitt said he looks for­ward “to build­ing on the mo­men­tum we’ve achieved to­gether over the last few years.”

“This is good news for the state of South Carolina and our con­tin­ued eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment ef­forts,” said S.C. Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Ted Pitts. “Sec­re­tary Hitt has a proven track record … of be­ing able to fill the needs for com­pa­nies look­ing glob­ally and re­gion­ally as they look to ex­pand.

“The ex­ist­ing busi­ness com­mu­nity is fo­cused on work­force de­vel­op­ment and (Hitt’s ) con­tin­ued fo­cus on that, and in­dus­try re­cruit­ment, is key for the fu­ture (of the state) in both the near-term and long-term.”

More an­nounce­ments about McMaster’s cab­i­net will be made soon, ac­cord­ing to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

Dur­ing Hitt’s ten­ure as Com­merce sec­re­tary, the state has seen busi­nesses prom­ise more than $29.5 bil­lion in cap­i­tal in­vest­ment, cre­at­ing more than 106,000 jobs,

The Com­merce De­part­ment has spent more than $321 mil­lion over the past five years — about $65 mil­lion a year — to lure com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Sam­sung, Volvo and Mer­cedes-Benz to South Carolina or en­tice them to ex­pand. It has fo­cused on the aerospace, au­to­mo­tive, life science and lo­gis­tics in­dus­tries.

On Tues­day, Uni­ver­sity of South Carolina economists fore­cast con­tin­ued steady job and in­come gains, and in­creased con­sumer spend­ing in the state in 2019. But they cau­tioned that in­ter­na­tional trade dis­putes and ris­ing in­ter­est rates threaten to tem­per eco­nomic growth.

Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment comes af­ter McMaster pre­vi­ously an­nounced the res­ig­na­tion of Ch­eryl Stan­ton, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the S.C. De­part­ment of Em­ploy­ment and Work­force, ef­fec­tive Fri­day.

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