Fixing West Virginia's Self-Esteem Problem

Jan 5, 2017

Woody Thrasher owns an engineering firm and has been picked as West Virginia's new Secretary of Commerce

Woody Thrasher says West Virginians don’t give themselves nearly enough credit.

“West Virginians do have a self-esteem problem,” the incoming W.Va. Secretary of Commerce told “The Front Porch.”

“I oftentimes see where we don’t shoot as high as we should. I think it’s understandable, but regrettable, and it’s very much at the center of what Governor-elect Justice wants to change,” he said.

The simple solution is to create good jobs in West Virginia, he said - but that’s easier said than done. Still, West Virginia has many competitive advantages compared to other states.

For example, most states have one accredited engineering school – West Virginia has four. Thrasher has built a successful engineering business in West Virginia that does work in several surrounding states.

“We produce an abundance of engineers. Whether you’re from West Virginia or whether you come to school here, you most likely want to stay, because of our quality of life,” he said.

“I do think if you really look for opportunities, they’re there.”

He expects other entrepreneurs, both in and out of state, offer to help Governor-elect Justice. And their example could inspire young West Virginians.

“I love to learn from example…I don’t think you can underestimate the example of role models,” he said.

He said two priorities out of the gate are:

- developing more readily-accessible sites for development

- expanding good broadband internet service to every part of the state

Thrasher also warned of some short-term pain because of the current budget crunch, although he said he didn’t know any specifics yet.

“Drastic times call for drastic measures. And I think we are in a situation with our budget deficit that we’re going to have to apply some drastic measures,” he said.

“Once we have a foundation, good things will follow.”

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