As Paul Rumler’s tenure as president and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber winds down, a chorus of QC leaders is celebrating a “can-do,” “bold” thinker who always seemed to be the right leader for the job. Mr. Rumler – under whose leadership the Quad Cities landed the largest economic development project in the bi-state […]
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As Paul Rumler’s tenure as president and CEO of the Quad Cities Chamber winds down, a chorus of QC leaders is celebrating a “can-do,” “bold” thinker who always seemed to be the right leader for the job.
Mr. Rumler – under whose leadership the Quad Cities landed the largest economic development project in the bi-state region’s history, Amazon, last year – will leave the chamber in mid-March after four years at the helm.
Steven Bahls, president of Augustana College and a chamber and community leader, had this to say about Mr. Rumler’s tenure: “Paul has a strong history of both leading the Quad Cities through difficult times and seizing important opportunities to advance the Quad Cities.”
On March 28, Mr. Rumler will become CEO and executive vice president of CCIM Institute. The Chicago-based institute is a global membership association serving the commercial real estate community through networking, technology and providing the industry’s gold standard in education, according to the chamber’s news release.
CCIM Institute, one of the largest global commercial real estate networks in the world, conducted a nearly year-long search before choosing Mr. Rumler.
“With a solid track record of building strong foundations for growth and prosperity, we are excited to bring Paul on as the newest member of the executive team,” 2022 CCIM Institute President Leslie G. Callahan III said in a CCIM news release. “He is the ideal person to help the institute fully realize our vision of being the most influential, innovative, and internationally recognized organization in commercial real estate.”
The institute’s release also highlighted Mr. Rumler’s accomplishments saying “During his tenure he oversaw an economic development team that closed 20 successful projects, resulting in $351 million of capital investment and the direct formation of 2,286 jobs. (Previously) the Quad Cities native served as chief strategy officer for the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Chamber and EVP and chief economic development officer for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce.”
In both his earlier chamber role and his current one, Mr. Rumler had a profound impact on the Quad Cities region, Mr. Bahls said.
“During the economic recession of 2008, Paul calmly helped the Quad Cities business community keep its nerve as Wall Street was losing its nerve,” Mr. Bahls said. “When COVID-19 hit Quad Cities businesses hard, he skillfully led the business community in learning how to responsibly co-exist with COVID-19. Paul always helps us see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Mr. Bahls, one of the tri-chairs for the regional Q2030 initiative, added “Paul’s ‘can do’ attitude provided needed energy to help advance the vision of Q2030 for the Quad Cities to be a cool, creative, connected and prosperous community. Bold thinking is Paul’s stock-in-trade.”
Additionally, he said, “The 2010 merger of the Iowa and Illinois Chamber of Commerce was particularly controversial with Illinois leaders. Paul, an Illinois leader himself, was particularly adept at leading the Illinois business community to understand the importance of a regional approach to making both sides of the river stronger.”
One of those Illinois leaders was Gerald J. Taylor former long-time publisher of The Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com.
“The Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce made an excellent selection when it named Paul Rumler as president and CEO four years ago,” Mr. Taylor said.
“Paul brought strong leadership, especially in the difficult times we have had during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been fortunate as a Quad Cities region to grow under Paul’s leadership. He is leaving the organization in good hands,” he added.
As a newcomer to the community, Dave Herrell, president and CEO of Visit Quad Cities, said Mr. Rumler has been “a professional ally, confidant, partner, and most importantly, friend that has made it incredibly easy for me to transition and relocate my family to the Quad Cities.
“From day one, Paul has been instrumental in helping me get the lay of the land and an understanding of the market and supportive of my time here,” the tourism boss said.
For example, Mr. Rumler quickly agreed to become the first chamber leader to be a board member of what then was the Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, Mr. Herrell said. “We wanted Paul’s leadership and his thoughtfulness on our board. That meant a lot to our organization and it meant a lot to me. It’s just been a really good partnership since then.”
He called Mr. Rumler “a good collaborator, and a really good listener” as well as “a very humble and thoughtful leader.” In fact, he applauded Mr. Rumler for joining in just about every major Visit Quad Cities endeavor since Mr. Herrell arrived. That includes the bureau’s name change as well as the region’s destination master plan, and the new “QC, That’s Where?” campaign unveiled last fall.
“I always knew that if there was anything I needed, whether it was perspective, counsel, an idea, he was somebody I could call on right away and he was going to be open and honest and provide me the context and perspective that I needed,” Mr. Herrell added.
A.J. Loss, the chamber board chairman, said “Paul has had a profound impact on the chamber’s evolution. His leadership came at a time when his skill sets were needed the most. Paul’s passion and relentless focus on solving complex challenges has enabled the chamber to offer services and information to its members, helping to boost their economic success and the community at large’s growth.”
The CEO of Bush Construction also said, “While I will personally miss Paul’s presence after mid-March, I’m confident a national search will uncover another transformational leader.”
LaDrina Wilson, chamber board vice chair and CEO of IMAN Consulting, added, “The Quad Cities Chamber is in a great position to find a passionate and capable professional to lead us into the future. We’re committed to finding the right person to represent our region and help us reach our audacious goals of growing our region’s GDP and economy, as well as engaging more businesses.”
In the near term, Mike Oberhaus, the chamber’s chief strategy officer, will assume the interim CEO role as a national search is conducted. Mr. Oberhaus previously served as the superintendent of Rock Island-Milan School District 41 before joining the chamber in 2019.
“I’ve had a great opportunity to make an impact in the Quad Cities region for the greater part of the last 15 years and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Mr. Rumler told the QCBJ in an interview earlier this month. “My job is to leave this in good hands. I’m excited to watch what the team does.”
He added, “What I’m most proud of is the Quad Cities Chamber as an organization is the strongest it’s ever been. We have a strong capacity to help the business community,” he said, including in its advancements in economic development, placemaking, talent recruitment and more.
Drawing comparisons between the chamber’s work in helping grow and strengthen the Quad Cities and its business community to the work of CCIM, Mr. Rumler said “This is a great opportunity to have that same impact with an organization that does that all over the world.”
Paul Rumler bio
Education: Moline High School, 1997; Black Hawk College, 1997-99; Boston University, 1999-2000; Georgia State University, 2001 (bachelor’s degree, economics).
Certifications: Certified Chamber Executive from Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), 2021.
Early career: Legislative aide and staff director, Massachusetts State Senate; staff assistant for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer; and aide to U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, Tennessee Sixth District.
Chamber work history: Quad Cities Chamber president and CEO, April 2018-March 2022; Quad Cities Chamber (merger 2010) senior vice president – community development, chief economic development officer/executive vice president; Grand Rapids Chamber (May 2016-April 2018), chief strategy officer; and Illinois Quad City Chamber (November 2006 – April 2016), director of talent attraction & retention, executive vice president.
Awards: Quad Cities Area Leader Under 40, 2011; 40 Under 40 Leader in Economic Development from Development Counsellors International, 2015; ACCE 40 Under 40 Leader, 2019; and Male Champion of Change Award from Women Lead Change, 2019.
By Kenda Burrows and Jennifer DeWitt