Governor’s aerospace adviser leaving for private sector

John Thornquist plans to take a job with Cascade Business Group, a Bellevue consulting firm.

OLYMPIA — John Thornquist, who has served as Gov. Jay Inslee’s top aerospace adviser the past 18 months, is quitting to return to the private sector.

Thornquist cited “personal and professional reasons” in a resignation letter released by the governor’s office Friday. Thornquist’s last day is Dec. 8.

Inslee hired Thornquist in April 2016 to serve as director of the Office of Aerospace, housed in the state Department of Commerce. It made him the point man on aerospace-related matters.

“The governor is grateful for his service to the state and what he did for the aerospace industry,” Inslee spokeswoman Tara Lee said.

Thornquist said Friday he made his decision in October and has been sharing it with business, civic and academic leaders with whom he’s worked. He plans to take a job with Cascade Business Group, a Bellevue consulting firm.

“My pathway has gone through (the Department of) Commerce and now it will go through the private sector,” he said.

The journey in public service got tough this year when the Legislature shaved several million dollars out of the operating budget of the Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, he said. The aerospace sector he runs is part of this office.

While the cuts didn’t affect him directly, it did other divisions that carry out duties such as helping small aerospace firms reach a global audience to assisting rural areas with developing their economies.

“There’s a lot of politics in politics,” he said. “We had our budget slashed. When you lose all that money it’s hard to do the good work that they do. We will suffer for it.”

A Seattle resident, Thornquist served as chief executive officer of Carbon Aerospace, an engineering and manufacturing consulting firm in Everett that he and three others founded. He also co-founded Global Aerosystem, which later became Kaman Engineering Services after its sale to the Kaman Corp.

Lee said a search is under way to fill the position but there is no timetable for a decision.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield @herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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