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Justice taps businessman Thrasher to lead WV Commerce Department

By MAX GARLAND

Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov.-elect Jim Justice announced Tuesday that businessman Woody Thrasher will serve as secretary of Commerce.

Woody Thrasher

Thrasher, who has been serving as an economic development chair advising Justice’s transition team, is president of The Thrasher Group, an engineering and architecture firm that is the largest of its kind in the state. He also has spearheaded the development efforts of the White Oaks Business Park in Bridgeport.

Justice said in a news release that Thrasher has agreed to step aside from his businesses and put them “under the control of trusted colleagues,” but did not go into further detail regarding the possible conflict of interest.

As secretary of Commerce, Thrasher will head the agency that focuses on economic and workforce development and tourism promotions. It oversees a number of state offices, which include the Division of Energy, Development Office, Division of Labor, Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training and Division of Natural Resources.

“Mr. Justice’s passion for our people inspired me to step away from my businesses and serve the people of West Virginia the best way possible,” Thrasher said in the release. “I look forward to working with the Justice Administration to create new jobs and opportunities. Just like the Governor-elect, my top priority is to turn around West Virginia. We need to think big, and I am excited to work with Governor-elect Justice to make his big economic development ideas a reality.”

Justice said “the number one guy” he wanted to recruit was Thrasher. He added that Thrasher “understands what it takes to diversify West Virginia’s economy” and was always on his mind as the choice for Commerce secretary.

“He owns and operates a multitude of businesses, so I asked Woody to do what I’ve done: step up, put his businesses under the control of trusted colleagues, and serve,” Justice said. “He has agreed to do so, and I am delighted.”

Thrasher, a Harrison County native, also has served as president of the West Virginia American Council of Engineering Companies and president of the West Virginia Society of Professional Engineers. He currently is the chairman of the WVU Alumni Association.

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