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Port of Bremerton CEO ready for challenges ahead
Jim Rothlin, the new CEO for the Port of Bremerton, spoke before the South Kitsap Rotary Club on March 4.
He was selected from among 30 applicants to replace CEO Tim Thomson, who retired on Dec. 31.
Rothlin, a Chehalis native, said after more than 10 years at the Port of Chehalis, he was ready for a new challenge. He found the position on a trade website.
“I’ve golfed in the area, but I had never seen Kitsap County and realized how beautiful it is,” Rothlin said.
Rothlin said he sees the potential in the area.
“I see a lot of potential everywhere in South Kitsap and in Bremerton,” he said.
Rothlin said he has more of an observation of the port, rather than a vision.
“I’ll spend the first six months listening and asking questions,” he said.
He noted the port has two marinas — one being more established, while the other is state-of-the-art.
Rothlin said the port has a great airport facility and plenty of land.
“There are some sites ready to go which is very important for people who want to come here,” he said. “They want to start a business and not get into the development business. We need to have things as ready as possible.”
He likes that the port has the potential for rail service.
“Rail is becoming more and more important,” Rothlin said.
He said the quality of life also is important for the port.
“Every port says they have the labor, the building, the land and the rail,” said Rothlin. “But when you come here that (qualify of life) is an easy selling point for us.”
He noted marinas are for the community and not “money makers.”
“They don’t bring in a lot of jobs, but they provide a nice quality of life for the port,” said Rothlin.
He noted real estate brings in the jobs and helps create cash flow.
“I see all this stuff and I wonder why isn’t anyone coming here,” said Rothlin. “We need to look what value we can provide the clients.”
He said people don’t think of Kitsap County as a place to develop and bring in cash flow.
“We see it and we know they can do it,” he said. “They don’t see it though. When people are looking for a place they look at buildings, utility costs, housing, transportation costs, labor costs and everything else.”
Rothlin said his first project will be providing information and comparing the port to others in the region.
“Our utility prices are low and we need to be showing that,” he added. “We need to show them what it cost to get them here.”
Rothlin was executive director of the Port of Chehalis since 2002 and serves as the chair of the economic development committee of the Washington State Ports Association.
Prior to coming to the Port of Chehalis, he was the CEO of Premiere Business Services, a business management consulting firm. From 1987 to 1994 he was the financial controller for National Semiconductor Corporation. He began his career in the Silicon Valley as a credit analyst for Hitachi America Ltd., in California.
He has a master’s degree in business from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Western Washington University.
During his time at the Port of Chehalis, he also has owned the Lund Theaters from 2006 to 2009 and was an adjunct professor in managerial accounting at Centralia College.
Rothlin, a former member of the Chehalis Rotary, and his wife, Theresa, have two children, Christopher and Taylor.