In his long career in law, business, and economic development, John Skvarla served as a Cabinet secretary twice for former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory. He passed away on Tuesday. He was 73.

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According to North State Journal publisher and longtime Skvarla friend Neal Robbins, who communicated with Skvarla’s family after Skvarla’s death, Skvarla passed away under hospice care in Pinehurst, where he resided after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.

Skvarla, a longtime executive at multiple firms, was Secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality under McCrory in 2013 and 2014. In early 2015, he switched jobs and became the commerce secretary under the Republican governor.


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As one mourner put it, “North Carolina has lost a tremendous public servant, friend, and mentor to many many.” “A tweet from McCrory.

Skvarla, in his role as secretary of the environment, prioritized enhancing the agency’s relationships with customers, such as those interacting with staff to get necessary permissions.

The Dan River coal ash spill in February 2014, at a Duke Energy facility, was a defining moment of his presidency. As a result of the spill, the federal government launched an inquiry, and questions were raised about the state’s ability to monitor the utility’s other coal ash sites. State officials eventually made cleaning up these areas a top priority because to the disaster.


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Skvarla, as commerce secretary, was instrumental in bringing new industries and jobs to the state. However, he also had to deal with the repercussions from the “bathroom bill” scandal of 2016 “and McCrory signed after it was passed by the legislature. The state lost billions of dollars due to cancelled sporting events and job expansions as a result of the law, commonly known as House Bill 2.

Skvarla began working as a consultant for the legal firm of Nexsen Pruett in 2017. Recently, it was reported that he had a hand in the plan that would bring Toyota to North Carolina to construct a battery plant for electric vehicles.


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Skvarla, a 1970s UNC Law School alum, established the current Wyrick Robbins firm. His resume also includes stints as the top executive at a physical treatment company and an environmental mitigation organization as well as COO at an all-cargo airline.

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