Cowles leaves EDA for job with governor


Morgan County’s Economic Development Authority director Daryl Cowles has resigned, saying he accepted a new job with the governor’s office.

County Commissioners, in their first meeting of 2021, said the EDA board of directors would be starting their search process for a replacement this week. Commissioner Sean Forney sits on the EDA board and said that group received Cowles’ resignation roughly two weeks ago.

In an email dated December 18, 2020, Cowles told his EDA board members that he had “verbally accepted a position with Governor Jim Justice.”

“I expect the details to be finalized over the coming days but wanted to let you know as soon as possible of my decision,” Cowles said in the email.

He said he would continue to work with the county to transition projects to a new director.

On Monday, Cowles said in an email, “I have accepted a job working for Governor Jim Justice and his team. The details will likely be announced soon but I will generally be working to assist his legislative team at the state Capitol and as a Governor’s Representative in the eastern part of the state.”

In addition to working as the county’s EDA Director, Cowles had served as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates representing the 58th district for six terms. Cowles lost his re-election bid during the June 2020 primary election to Republican George Miller. During his time in the House of Delegates, Cowles served in several upper-level leadership roles.

Governor Justice’s office said Monday that Cowles will split his time, working as the governor’s Eastern Panhandle representative in dealings with constituents, and also working as a legislative assistant during the session of the West Virginia Legislature.

“As Regional Representative, Cowles will serve as the primary point of contact for local constituencies to communicate directly with the Governor’s Office. He will assist local governments, organizations, and residents in their interactions with the Governor’s Office and state government as a whole. His coverage area includes eight counties: Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Mineral, Grant, Hardy, and Pendleton,” said Justice spokesman Jordan Damron.

“During the nearly five years with MC EDA, I learned much and was excited about the amazing progress we made together. There are multiple exciting projects underway in Morgan County (HUNDREDS of millions of dollars in investments never seen before in our small county – $100 million U.S. 522 and Fairview Connector Road including a $20 million Federal BUILD Grant; $30 million Cacapon State Park expansion; $55 million NG Infrastructure Project; a pending new substance abuse treatment & recovery facility; several business expansions; a growing new community college for Higher Ed and workforce training; SpringTech – a business startup incubator; a Rail Trail project; and so much more).

“I am confident we can keep the momentum during the coming days, weeks, months and beyond,” Cowles said.

“I am excited about the opportunity to go to work for Governor Jim Justice, his team and our beloved Mountain State. The Legislative session doesn’t begin this year until February 10th so I can be available to assist with the transition of projects and programs at the EDA office,” said Cowles in his email. 

Commissioner Forney said the EDA would start the process immediately to find a new director for the county’s development office.