You might say Ken Kaczmarek got into the ports business by taking a handoff from a former IU quarterback.
“I got involved in Mitch Daniels’ campaign through a teammate of mine, Harry Gonso,” Bloomington businessman Ken Kaczmarek said.
The team in question was Indiana University’s last Rose Bowl football team. Gonso subsequently became an adviser to Mitch Daniels and recruited Kaczmarek, who played linebacker for the Hoosiers, to run the Department of Natural Resources.
When that job was done, Gonso again tapped Kazmarek, who now runs a company handling the finances of the wealthy, to be on the Ports of Indiana Commission. Kaczmarek said the Commission is a for-profit entity which sees the state’s ports as a business and mostly employs people who live near waterways to see the ports make money and run efficiently.
“We do have two people from up in the Portage area that understand the Great Lakes,” he said. “We have one person from Evansville that understands the Evansville-Mount Vernon environment. We have one from Jeffersonville that understands that.”
But Kaczmarek is the only member of the commission who does not live near the Great Lakes or in a city with a major river. But he insisted overseeing ports does not mean a person has to have maritime experience.
“You don’t really have to be by one of the rivers or [Lake Michigan] to do a good job as a port commissioner,” he said.
With the extension this week of their terms, Kaczmarek and David Fagan of Portage are slated to serve until June 30, 2015.