CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Parkways Authority has gone outside West Virginia to hire the next executive director for the Tamarack visitors’ center.

The authority’s economic development and tourism committee recommended Jim Browder of Lexington, Ky., for the job Thursday during a meeting in Charleston. 


Jim Browder has been chosen as the next executive director at Tamarack.

Browder has worked in the tourism-hospitality industry for more than 30 years, most recently as the president of the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Parkways Authority Chairman Jason Pizatella, who served on the search committee, said he believes Browder will raise the profile of Tamarack, an arts-based retail and conference center on Exit 45 of the West Virginia Turnpike in Beckley.

“He’s a leader that Tamarack needs,” Pizatella said. “I think he has the mix of retail, tourism, hospitality and government experience too.”

Pizatella said there is a West Virginia connection. Browder’s wife is from Hinton, where the two own a residence there.

Tamarack has rarely been profitable since opening in 1996 and Pizatella said Browder will be charged with making Tamarack a destination location, not just a place for motorists to stop for gas and food.

“We’ll be asking him to come up with ways for Tamarack not only to do what it needs to do, be the best of West Virginia and provide the retail side for artisans to be there. One of his other tasks is going to be trying to make Tamarack a destination,” Pizatella said.

The Parkways Authority received Tamarack’s latest financial figures Thursday. Revenues were down for August in retail, food and museum shop purchases. The conference center at Tamarack has topped estimates by $39,000 so far this budget year.

More than 100 people applied for the job left open by the retirement this year of Cheryl Hartley.

The Parkways Authority hopes to reach a contract agreement with Browder so he can start by Oct. 1, Pizatella said.

After three years at his Lexington post, Browder resigned in May. His employment stops in the industry have included Florida, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Browder would be the fourth executive director since Tamarack opened in 1996.

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    And, I do not work for the Turnpike, nor do I have relatives that do, so, my opinion is unbiased