“When I graduated from Thomas College, I never thought I would end up where I am today.”
In his junior year Cost Accounting class with Professor Largay, Rich participated in a class project about the International Paper Mill in Bucksport, ME.
He didn’t know then that, 18 years later, he would be instrumental in bringing new business to the shuttered mill.
After graduating from Thomas, Rich didn’t immediately settle in Bucksport. First, he went home to Rhode Island. He quickly found himself back in Waterville, staying with a friend while he interviewed for jobs, eventually securing a position with MBNA America in Belfast.
That was another Thomas connection, as Rich had toured MBNA’s Camden facility as a member of FBLA-Phi Beta Lambda (Future Business Leaders of America) and decided to apply because he wanted to be part of something that felt special to him. While he was at MBNA, Rich met his wife Jennifer and they bought their home in Bucksport, where they are raising their two daughters Abigail and Brianna.
Rich, now the Community and Economic Development Director for the town of Bucksport, worked directly with the CEO of Whole Oceans, Robert Piasio, when the company first expressed interested in the former mill in October 2016.
Together, Rotella and Piasio reviewed the Whole Oceans pro forma, toured the location, and worked with local, state, and federal officials to turn the defunct paper mill into a land-based salmon farm. Whole Oceans has not broken ground yet, but they are expected to do so this fall along with Greenhead Lobster, another business that Rich has played a large part in bringing to Bucksport.
The managerial, financial, and communication skills that Rich learned at Thomas have helped him in his current position, but Rich credits the staff and faculty of Thomas in helping get him to where he is today. In particular, Rich says Dr. Nelson Madore greatly shaped the way he views Bucksport and Maine as a whole.
*This story was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2018 Thomas Magazine.