PENDLETON — The S.C. Secretary of Commerce touted the state’s growth in terms of job opportunities and work force during Tri-County Technical College’s annual report luncheon, saying the Palmetto State is the envy of the country, not just our part of the world.
“There is nothing more important to our success in South Carolina than preparing our young people to go into the workforce,” said Robert “Bobby” Hitt, guest speaker at the event held last week. “Absolutely nothing more important. I tell business investors all the time: You invest in South Carolina, we will invest in our people and we help you be profitable. And along the way, we will all grow. That works. It’s been working that way for a long time.”
Hitt said the “secret sauce” for recruiting unprecedented industry to the state over the past four years is the work force.
“I want you to reflect on a time just 25 years ago when we were what I used to call a ‘3 T’ state — tobacco, textiles and tourism. That was us, that was who we were,” he said. “That was our strength and our universe.”
Hitt, originally from Charleston, worked as the manager of corporate affairs at the BMW Manufacturing Company in Spartanburg and at The State and The Columbia Record newspapers as the managing editor.
He was also a past chairman of the S.C. Manufacturers’ Alliance as well as having served on the executive committees of Advance SC and the Upstate Alliance and on the boards of St. Francis Hospital System and Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC before being appointed Secretary of Commerce by Gov. Nikki Haley in 2011.
“Today, we’re the envy of the Southeastern United States and, frankly, all over the country,” said Hitt. “We’re a well known advance manufacturing automotive, aerospace state. It’s a remarkable transition that has occurred. We’re outpacing North Carolina and Georgia, not on a per capita basis but on an aggregate basis … particularly in the manufacturing sector.”
Hitt stated the technical college system is at the center of that transition.
“You know the growth of industry, you can see it when a school like this (Tri-County) practically doubles their enrollment in the past 10 years,” he said.
Hitt stated that over the past four and a half years more than 75,000 jobs, largely manufacturing, have been recruited to the state.
“We had no auto workers in South Carolina 20 years ago, not a one,” he said. “We have 9,000 on that canvas now and 28,000 in the supplier system. It just keeps on going.”
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.