Robert M. Hitt III, Secretary of Commerce
Robert “Bobby” M. Hitt III was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve as Secretary of Commerce in January 2011. Hitt, the previous manager of corporate affairs at the BMW Manufacturing Company in Spartanburg, brings a wealth of economic development experience to the Department of Commerce and has personally worked with the previous five commerce secretaries.
Hitt served as the director of planning and development for the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough law firm in Columbia. In that role, Hitt was involved in bringing the BMW Manufacturing Company to the Upstate, one of the state’s largest success stories. He worked for 17 years at The State and The Columbia Record newspapers. He served as the managing editor of The Columbia Record from 1980 to 1987. In 1988, Hitt was named managing editor of its sister paper, The State, a position he held until 1991.
Hitt is past chairman of the S.C. Manufacturers’ Alliance, vice chairman of the Public Affairs Steering Committee for the Southeast Region of the National Association of Manufacturers. Additionally, he has served on the executive committees of Advance SC and the Upstate Alliance and on the boards of the S.C. Centers of Economic Excellence, St. Francis Hospital System and Hollings Cancer Center at MUSC.
Hitt is a native of Charleston and graduate of the University of South Carolina. USC recognized him as Distinguished Journalism Alumni of the Year in 2001. In 1987, he received the prestigious Nieman Fellowship for journalists, which allowed him to study for a year at Harvard University where he focused on management and law.
He and his wife Gwen have two sons, Lucas and Robert Paul.
George B. Patrick III, Deputy Secretary
George B. Patrick III joined the South Carolina Department of Commerce as the Deputy Secretary in February of 2011. He is a successful small business entrepreneur and a retired United States Air Force general officer. Patrick, the previous Executive Coordinator of the South Carolina Military Base Task Force, brings to Commerce extensive experience working with business, political and military leaders as well as numerous federal, state and private entities.
For 22 years, Patrick was engaged in diversified agribusiness operations, restaurant ventures and other business enterprises, while actively serving with the South Carolina Air National Guard and US Air Force.
Spanning a 35-year military career, Patrick served extensively at all command levels of the U.S. Air Force. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who returned to active duty after September 11, 2001 and served in leadership roles in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Patrick flew 50 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm. His military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, Air Medal (4) and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.
Patrick is a native South Carolinian from Bowman and graduated magna cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Business. He has three children - Jared, a career Air Force officer in Texas; Sarah, a commercial insurance underwriter in Columbia; and Matthew, a defense contractor in Virginia.
Patrick is passionate about advancing economic development in the Palmetto State and will assist the Secretary of Commerce with a variety of functions including job and investment recruitment, defense and energy related projects, as well as operational support for the agency.