Mcmaster Picks Businessman To Helm South Carolina Commerce

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday nominated longtime business executive Harry M. Lightsey III to serve as the next state commerce secretary, putting forth the first new name to lead the agency in more than a decade.

The former Bellsouth, AT&T and General Motors executive would succeed Bobby Hitt, who is retiring in the fall.

First nominated by former Gov. Nikki Haley after her 2010 election, Hitt was kept on after McMaster's elevation from lieutenant governor in 2016 following Haley's departure to join the Trump administration as U.N. Ambassador. In office, Hitt has helmed major investments in South Carolina, including projects by Volvo, Boeing and Mercedes-Benz.

"I’m confident that with the vast experience he will be bringing to the Department of Commerce, South Carolina will keep winning,” McMaster said Thursday of Lightsey, who faces a confirmation process in the state Senate. “Our state will have the workforce, infrastructure, intellectual capital, environmental assets and the quality of life necessary to compete — both nationally and globally — for jobs and investment.”

Lightsey, 65, has served in executive leadership roles for several corporations, including as president of BellSouth Telecommunications for South Carolina prior to their merger with AT&T. After the merger, he became president for AT&T’s Southeast region.

Subsequently, Lightsey worked as director of federal government affairs and emerging technologies for the General Motors Corporation and most recently has been principal with Hawksbill Advisors, a business and communications consulting firm.

He has also served as Board of Directors member for the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, Virginia.

Lightsey, a Columbia native, is a 1978 graduate of Princeton University and a 1981 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.