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USDA Rural Development has new W.Va. director: Ryan Thorn

President Biden announced that Ryan Thorn was appointed Rural Development state director in West Virginia.

He officially assumed this role Monday.

State directors serve as the chief executive officer of rural development in the states and territories and are tasked with carrying out the mission of rural development to the benefit of everyone in rural America. In conjunction with the guidance and support of the national office, state directors are responsible for promoting the mission and strategic goals of rural development and provide key leadership to develop and support a productive, diverse, and inclusive state workforce.

“Our state offices are on the frontlines of providing critical USDA programs and services,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I am thrilled to welcome these talented and dedicated public servants to the team as we continue to build back better for the American people.”

Thorn said he is excited to begin.

“Rural communities across West Virginia continue to face great challenges when it comes to having adequate basic infrastructure, accessing reliable broadband service, attaining affordable housing, availability of good-paying local jobs, and more,” Thorn said. “I look forward to working with local stakeholders from Weirton to Welch, and all parts in between, to leverage the programs of rural development to address these challenges while creating new opportunities, diversifying local economies, and building resilient communities across the Mountain State.”

Born, raised and educated in West Virginia, Thorn grew up the son of a coal miner and learned early in life the importance of hard work, serving others, and dedication to creating opportunities for rural communities. Thorn has 15 years of professional experience in the private and public sectors, working in the fields of public and government affairs and economic development.

He previously served more than five years as economic development manager for the effice of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV). In this role, he worked with local, state and federal stakeholders to attract new and expand existing businesses, strengthen public infrastructure, develop a skilled and ready workforce, and create economically diverse and resilient communities across the state.

Thorn is the first in his immediate family to graduate from college and is an advocate for lifelong learning. He holds a master’s degree from West Virginia University, a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and is a board member of the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Foundation.

West Virginia Rural Development’s state office is in Morgantown, with area offices in Ripley, Cross Lanes, Beckley and Elkins.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, rural development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas.