Dorchester County Business Leader Honored by Department of Commerce

Columbia, South Carolina

March 20, 2013 - Henry "Hank" O. Bennett, Jr., director of TEF Automotive Technology for Robert Bosch Corporation, was honored yesterday as an Ambassador for Economic Development by the Department of Commerce as part of South Carolina's Industry Appreciation Week. The ceremony took place in Columbia on Tuesday, March 19th, on the grounds of the Governor's mansion, and highlighted 47 individuals from 46 counties for their exceptional efforts to bolster community and economic development activities in South Carolina.

"South Carolina is becoming the new 'it' state for doing business. And industry and local leaders are helping show the nation and the world the benefits the Palmetto State has to offer companies. Today we celebrate the local leaders who are making a difference and improving the competitiveness of their communities," said Gov. Nikki Haley.

Bennett has been employed with the Robert Bosch Corporation for 27 years, working both in the Charleston, S.C. plant and in Bamberg, Germany. Experience from both assignments instilled in him a commitment to support youth programs developing interest in science, technology, and math.

Bennett initiated Bosch's involvement with the SAE program, "A World in Motion," in local schools in 2006. The AWIM program provides engineering challenges for grades five through nine in an in-school program led by volunteers. He increased his involvement and commitment to the developing workforce of tomorrow in 2009 by taking the lead for the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) Robotics program for the Lowcountry. He has partnered with BAE Systems, SPAWAR, and the Lowcountry Manufacturers Council to expand from a single team representing 11 different area high schools to eight local teams in the Tri-County area.

Currently, there are more than 300 students and mentors involved in the FIRST program. Through FIRST, students develop technical skills as well as experience-challenging "life lessons," including team work, communication, and problem solving.

"Economic development is a team effort, requiring input from organizations and individuals across the state. South Carolina continues to enjoy economic development successes because of the work of the individuals recognized as Ambassadors for Economic Development. They are a vital part of Team South Carolina," said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt.

Each year the Department of Commerce joins local communities to thank businesses for their vital contributions to South Carolina's economy. The Department of Commerce kicks off Industry Appreciation Week each year by recognizing individuals throughout South Carolina as Ambassadors for Economic Development. These individuals include local leaders from the private sector representing a variety of businesses and economic development organizations committed to securing new jobs and investment in their communities.