Zoltan the sultan of business
June 9, 2008 · Updated 6:45 PM
"Once he is finished explaining how his name is pronounced, Zoltan Szigethy will explain his hopes for the Kitsap Regional Economic Development Council.I hope I can expand the diversity of employment, said Bainbridge Island resident Szigethy, who was appointed the EDC's new executive director last week.The Kitsap Regional EDC is a non-profit organization that looks to bring bigger and better business into Kitsap County. Bainbridge Island resident Kevin Dwyer, the EDC's director of business recruiting and marketing, said the EDC's mission boils down to bringing new dollars into the market.We want to recruit and maintain primary businesses, Dwyer said. The companies don't have to be headquartered in Kitsap County, but we want people working for them here.EDC president Karl Jonietz said Szigethy has the right balance of business sense and community devotion that he and the other board members looked for in their search, which brought candidates from all over the nation. I think I have a bundle of backgrounds and experiences that fit this job, Szigethy said. Szigethy has had a hand in everything from global commerce to local civil service. He studied at Princeton University and volunteered for the Peace Corps after doing graduate work at the University of Washington. He founded a consulting business, Ambit Development, and the Institute for Local Government and Public Service, which advised Warsaw Pact countries on public administration reform after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He has worked for the federal departments of Health and Housing and Urban Development and was the associate director of the Peace Corps in Malaysia. Most recently, Szigethy assisted in strategic planning by Midtown Commons of Seattle and Northwest Environmental Watch. He is a licensed real estate broker in the Washington and has more than 20 years of real estate business experience. Szigethy has been a Bainbridge Island resident since 1972 and has two grown children.Szigethy's children are one of the reasons he took the position at the EDC. He said he would like to see his children come back to Kitsap to work after they finish school and the Peace Corps, but does not see a lot of opportunity for them. He said he doesn't want to see Kitsap become a reserve for retires and a home for people who travel back to Seattle. By encouraging more business to come, Szigethy said Kitsap will evolve and bring more of the jobs people seek.In the old days, which wasn't too long ago, you learned one set of skills and worked at one company until you retired, Szigethy said. People are a lot more mobile now and need to be prepared for at least three to five working skills.Although Szigethy has a vision for the EDC and Kitsap County, he said he does not want to overstep his bounds. Since he is new to the EDC and has known Kitsap mostly as a bedroom community, he said he will spend a lot of time learning about the county and what it's needs are.Quite frankly, it would be pretentious of me to just come riding in on my horse, Szigethy said. Szigethy is unsure how long he will be with the EDC, but he wants to stay long enough to leave a mark on the county and region he has grown to love. The Northwest is in my blood, Szigethy said. I want to accomplish something (for it). Szigethy replaces Warren Olson of Silverdale, who retired.And by the way, the name is pronounced ZOLE-ton (rhymes with con) SIG-uh-tee.Ben Cape is a staff writer for the Central Kitsap Report, the Review's sister paper in Silverdale. Review staff writer John Waldo contributed to this report."