Richard D. Thrasher Jr., 40, Lakeland, Fla., is the first president and chief executive officer of the Utah Economic Development Corp., an entity organized late last year to consolidate public and private economic development efforts in Salt Lake Valley.
Thrasher's appointment was announced Friday by D.N. Rose, chairman of the corporation's board and president and chief executive officer of Mountain Fuel Supply Co. Thrasher is scheduled to take over his new job by June 1 in an office established in the City Centre Building."In Richard Thrasher, we have found a respected economic development specialist who has achieved an impressive success record wherever he has served," said Rose. Thrasher has helped revitalize regional economics in Indiana and Florida.
"The selection process was deliberately painstaking to ensure that we could find a person with the right background, skills and energy to spearhead corporation's efforts in this important period for the area economy," Rose said.
The corporation's board includes the 12 Salt Lake County mayors, three county commissioners, the Utah Department of Community and Economic Development executive director, three community at-large members and 16 people representing the business community.
For the past two years, Thrasher has been president and chief executive officer of the Lakeland Economic Development Council in Lakeland, Fla. He developed a strategic area promotion plan for Lakeland and surrounding municipalities, helped establish small- and minority-business development centers and embarked on a campaign to establish Lakeland as Florida's distribution center, Rose said.
From 1980 to 1986, Thrasher was president of the New Castle/Henry County Development Corp., New Castle, Ind. Rose said under Thrasher's direction, the group was instrumental in encouraging several major corporations to continue and expand operations and employment. He also assisted in recruiting several major businesses for Henry County, which helped reduce unemployment.
Thrasher's first economic-development position was as executive director of the Superior/Douglas County Development Association Inc. in Superior, Wis., from 1977 to 1980.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Thrasher graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 1972. He did graduate work at that university and the University of Minnesota-Duluth and also attended the Economic Development Institute at the University of Oklahoma.
He holds the certified economic developer designation from the American Economic Development Council and serves on its board. He also is vice chairman of the council's certification board.
Last year in announcing formation of the corporation, Rose said there must be a unified voice in Utah for economic development because of the highly competitive nature of every state trying to attract new business.
"The corporation's basic mission will be to concentrate our financial and human resources to effectively compete for new business and jobs, to help existing business to expand and prosper and to create an overall positive business climate," Rose said.