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New SC commerce chief takes the helm for state economic development

South Carolina Business Review
SC Public Radio

Last summer, our state’s commerce department received a new chief executive whom we have not interviewed yet, so after letting him get settled in for several months, we thought now would be a good time to check in to see what his view is on our state’s economic development challenges and opportunities. Mike Switzer interviews Harry Lightsey, Secretary of Commerce for the State of South Carolina.

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After almost 20 years, Mike Switzer retired from Wells Fargo Securities in 2001 as Senior Vice President/Investment Officer and Certified Portfolio Manager. In 1999, he and his wife, Maggie, purchased and operated for eight years the Baskin Robbins ice cream store on Forest Drive in Columbia. They grew the store from a bottom-tier operation in the Baskin Robbins franchise system to one in the top 5% nationwide within three years, tripling sales along the way. While operating the ice cream store, Mike and Maggie received patents for a portable ice cream sink and fold-down sneezeguard they invented and in 2002 started Magnolia Carts, an ice cream cart manufacturing company, which they sold in 2013.