Bryan Rothamel starts as economic development coordinator

Bryan Rothamel starts as economic development coordinator

By Madeline Otten, correspondent, and Christina Dimeo, editor

In an unusual move, Fluvanna County leaders hired a man who beat them in a lawsuit as chief county marketer.

Bryan Rothamel began work as Fluvanna’s economic development coordinator in February, but his interactions with the county started long ago.

In 2009 Rothamel began the Fluco Blog, a website covering news and sports within the county, and used an image of the county seal to illustrate various stories. In 2010 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance prohibiting use of the county seal without approval, in a move that then-Supervisor Shaun Kenney characterized as a “remedial action” against Rothamel for writing something that a supervisor disagreed with, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Kenney was the only supervisor to vote against the ordinance.

Rothamel sued. He and his attorneys from The Rutherford Institute, an Albemarle County-based civil liberties organization, argued that the county violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments by passing the ordinance.

In 2011 U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon agreed, ruling in favor of Rothamel. U.S. Magistrate Judge Waugh Crigler ordered the county to pay Rothamel $37,119.50 in attorneys’ fees and $353 in costs.

“This was a governmental attempt to censor a citizen’s free speech and the court rightly condemned the county for it,” said John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, according to The Daily Progress.

Rothamel graduated from Fluvanna County High School in 2006. He attended High Point University and obtained a degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism. He recently worked as a reporter for the Free Enterprise Forum covering Fluvanna Board of Supervisors meetings.

As economic development coordinator, Rothamel seeks to help grow Fluvanna’s economy. As a Fluvanna native, marketing Fluvanna through tourism, jobs, new businesses, and expansion of existing businesses comes easily to him.

“I am really excited to help our current businesses grow. I think we can grow our reach in terms of staycations and small events for the Charlottesville area,” said Rothamel. “I am working on promoting our county in different ways to encourage more people to enjoy our county’s assets on a regular basis.”

Picking up from the last economic development coordinator, Jennifer Edwards, who stopped working in December, Rothamel continues to market the county through social media outlets and the Fluvanna County website. Through these forums, he hopes to show why and how Fluvanna is a great place to live, learn, work and play.

As for long-term goals, Rothamel is looking to diversify the business community and to include more employers. Including more employers will result in more jobs within Fluvanna County, so residents can live and work in the same community.

At a young age Rothamel was intrigued by new business.

“It started when I was in elementary school and Food Lion on Turkeysag was being developed,” said Rothamel. “The kids on my school bus were thrilled with the news as I would relay what my father told me from news reports. I’ve always taken a liking to this field.”

In college Rothamel was impressed with the work High Point University did with local city government in redevelopment. He said it helped spark his interest in development, expansion of local economy and working with partners in the private and public sector.

Growing up in and working for Fluvanna has it perks. For Rothamel, it makes the job easier, especially since he talks about the county as part of his daily responsibilities. He looks forward to thinking creatively about how Fluvanna’s economy can grow, and pointed to the Zion Crossroads water line as a project that will help attract development for more jobs.

“I am in a great starting position because of the work the county has undertaken over the last few years,” said Rothamel. “We will have water at Zion Crossroads in less than two years. I’m excited for the work ahead to attract and retain businesses with that in mind.”

Throughout the past month, Rothamel has seen support from the community in his new role. People he knew while he was growing up are still involved with the county, and he said he appreciates the support of those long-time friends.

Rothamel and his wife, Blair, met on a blind date in 2014 and married 500 days later. They currently live in Charlottesville and are both avid college basketball fans, specifically the University of Virginia, and New York Mets fans.

“It is convenient those seasons are opposite of each other,” said Rothamel. “We love sitting down to watch our U.Va. basketball play. But all summer long we are glued to the Mets.”

Both sides of the family live in the county and love spending time with the Rothamels’ nine-month-old daughter, Miller, and catching up on her newly learned skills.

Rothamel looks forward to helping Fluvanna’s current businesses grow their customer base. This will be rewarding, he said, since the county has a lot to offer the region. By growing tourism, businesses will see a direct impact.



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