After being announced as the Quad Cities Chamber’s new chief executive officer, LaDrina Wilson told a crowd of chamber members that it is time for the community and the chamber to “switch from survival mode to revival mode.”
Ms. Wilson was introduced as the chamber’s new CEO on Thursday, Aug. 11, during the chamber’s annual meeting at the Rhythm City Casino Resort, Davenport. The annual celebration, which was presented by TBK Bank, attracted nearly 600 area business and community leaders.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to serve our region as CEO for the Quad Cities Chamber,” said Ms. Wilson, who has served in an interim capacity the past month. “Looking forward, we are an effective and efficient organization, and we won’t stray from our roots. We will re-evaluate our priorities, our past practices and we will act on that insight to push our work to the next level.”
Ms. Wilson, founder and CEO of IMAN Consulting, based in the Quad-Cities, stepped into the interim position July 5, after the departure of Chief Strategy Officer Mike Oberhaus, who had been interim president and CEO since the former chamber executive Paul Rumler stepped down in March to become CEO and executive vice president of the CCIM Institute, Chicago.
“LaDrina is an exceptional leader and facilitator. She is the right person at the right time to lead our chamber,” said Debbie Anselm, the chamber board chair and publisher of the Quad-City Times and Dispatch/Argus. “This commitment will provide the stability needed and ensure the good work of the chamber continues. It also provides us with a unique opportunity to develop a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the region and determine a strategic plan for the organization that aligns with the needs of the Quad Cities region.”
During Thursday’s meeting, Ms. Wilson praised the chamber for helping make the region a place where all businesses can thrive. She suggested the chamber and community “switch from survival mode to revival mode” as the nation looks to a post-pandemic economy.
Ms. Wilson and other chamber leaders also used the annual meeting to outline the organization’s many accomplishments in the past year.
“Wow, what a year,” said A.J. Loss, CEO of Bush Construction and the outgoing chamber board chairman. “Looking back, we have much to be proud of and our collective efforts help grow our economy.”
Some of the “major wins” Mr. Loss and other chamber leaders highlighted included:
- Involved in 72 new projects, including 59 business attraction projects and 13 business expansions.
- Economic development projects included $140.5 million in total investment and $195 million economic impact for the region.
- Assisted in landing Fair Oaks Foods, which plans to invest $134 million in a new food production facility in north Davenport with an annual economic impact estimated at $182.9 million, making it the largest business attraction project in chamber history.
- Launched a multi-media marketing campaign “QC, That’s Where!” along with Visit quad Cities to attract talent, investment, visitors and more community pride. Marketing efforts are targeting college graduates, skilled trades and mid-career professionals in Chicago, Des Moines and other places to move to the region.
- Participated in 560 company outreach connections, 2,626 resource assists and 90 ribbon-cuttings and business celebrations.
The Chamber also presented these awards:
- Business of the Year: Quad City Engineering Co., Inc. Based in East Moline, the design and tool manufacturing company serves local and national customers through 3-D design and build of tooling, dies, welding, fabrication and small-run production. Quad City Engineering helps its clients improve manufacturing processes and output. Owners Jeff and Julie Hagmeier made a large investment in the East Moline facility and have had significant growth in the past 18 months.
“We were very surprised to learn we were going to be honored as the Business of the Year,” Jeff Hagmeier, who serves as president and CEO, said in a chamber news release. “It is important to note it is our employees who are the drivers behind our company. They rally on a day-to-day basis and lead our success. We are very happy for our team.”
- Volunteer of the year: Kathy Daily. Ms. Daily served on the board of directors and finance committee of the Downtown Davenport Partnership (DDP), a chamber affiliate organization, for nine years and also spent four years as treasurer. She is a senior director, Audit Services for RSM US, LLP, and has spent most of her career, and two years as a college intern, working in downtown Davenport.
“I’ve never been involved with a board that gets so much done. There has been so much progress in downtown Davenport and there is so much potential for the future,” she said in the release. “There are opportunities and more improvements coming as we move forward.”
Ms. Daily was unable to attend Thursday’s annual meeting.
Also recognized during the annual meeting were nine Quad Cities Chamber Ambassadors who have volunteered for the organization for 10 years or more. They are: Ron Crouch, Dave Emerick, Jennifer Kress, Zobeida Laufenberg, Larry Makoben, Jan Mohr, Ray Terronez, Ken Vandersnick and Kelly Wainwright.
All have also served as ambassadors in Quad Cities Chamber predecessor organizations, some volunteering for more than 20 years. An extension of the organization, ambassadors assist with driving change in the region, putting members first, delivering results that matter, thinking regionally and building relationships marked by trust, the chamber said.
The annual meeting’s keynote speaker was Kenneth W. Gronbach, a demographer, futurist and generational marketing expert. During his presentation, he predicted that the United States, because of its superior demographics over any other continent, will excel culturally and economically in the post-pandemic era.