By Kenda Burrows and Jennifer DeWitt
Quad Cities Chamber President and CEO Paul Rumler, under whose leadership the Quad Cities landed Amazon – the largest economic development project in the bistate region’s history – is leaving his post.
After four years at the helm of the chamber, 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 a chamber news release.
“It has been a privilege to serve the Quad Cities region and work with a talented chamber team to help create a more prosperous regional economy,” Mr. Rumler said in the release. “I’m excited to join CCIM Institute and help guide this world class organization.”
In an interview Monday, Feb. 7, with the QCBJ, Mr. Rumler said “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, touting its advancements in economic development, placemaking, talent recruitment and more.
Mr. Rumler is expected to stay on the job until mid-March and will move into CCIM’s leadership role in late March.
Mike Oberhaus, the chamber’s current chief strategy officer, will assume the chamber’s interim CEO role as a national search is conducted for a new leader. Mr. Oberhaus previously served as the superintendent of Rock Island-Milan School District 41 before joining the chamber in 2019.
“I’m honored and humbled to serve as an interim leader of the Quad Cities Chamber,” Mr. Oberhaus said in the release. “We have an amazing team of dedicated professionals who work each day to make our QC region better.”
While this marks Mr. Rumler’s first involvement with CCIM, he said he has been learning more and more about it since the organization began recruiting him.
“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. “My job is to leave this in good hands. I’m excited to watch what the team does.”
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.”
Through its 56 chapters in the United States, Canada and Asia, CCIM develops best practices, provides members with industry-leading tools and works to advance the commercial real estate industry. Its CCIM pin, a designation member can earn, is considered the industry’s most coveted credential. Since 1967, more than 20,000 professionals have completed the designation program.
In addition to landing the Amazon robotics fulfillment center, now under construction in northwest Davenport, the Quad Cities chamber listed these major accomplishments under Mr. Rumler’s leadership:
- Expanded placemaking services to include Bettendorf and Rock Island.
- Created talent attraction marketing and inclusion initiatives, including Leadership QC.
- Helped thousands of businesses navigate the pandemic.
“We are grateful for Paul’s leadership and wish him well in his new endeavor, knowing that we have a lifelong QC supporter and friend,” said A.J. Loss, Quad Cities Chamber board chair and CEO of Bush Construction. “Paul is leaving the Quad Cities Chamber on sound financial footing with a solid blueprint for the future rooted in talent attraction and development, business and economic growth and placemaking.”
A native of the Quad Cities, Mr. Rumler has been passionate about growing and improving the region. And his efforts played a part in helping the chamber and local leaders make regionalism “a part of the DNA of the QC region,” as Mr. Rumler likes to say.
His support for working regionally dates back to his earlier decade-long stint with the newly combined Quad Cities Chamber and one of its predecessors, the Illinois Quad Cities Chamber chamber.
His jobs then included talent attraction and retention, community development, public policy and economic development. Among the projects he helped champion were the Western Illinois University Quad Cities campus, the Manufacturing Innovation Hub, the regional 2030 plan, and Quad Cities to Chicago passenger rail service.
In 2016, he left the Quad Cities for Michigan, where he served two years as the Grand Rapids Chamber’s chief strategy officer. Prior to his chamber roles, Mr. Rumler worked in legislative/government affairs in the Massachusetts State Senate and U.S. Congress. He earned an economics degree from Georgia State University and also attended Boston University and Black Hawk College.
In July 2021, he was designated as a Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). The CCE is an internationally recognized certification in the chamber industry. Alexandria, Va.-based ACCE is a professional society made up of more than 1,600 chambers of commerce and related business and economic development organizations.
Mr. Rumler’s other awards include: “40 Under 40 Leader in Economic Development” by Development Counsellors International, 2015; Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives 40 Under 40 award, 2019; and the “Male Champion of Change” Athena Award by Women Lead Change, 2019. He also lends his talents and time to several non-profit organization’s board of directors.
There’s no word yet on when the search for a replacement will begin. But leaders are optimistic about the process.
“The Quad Cities Chamber is in a great position to find a passionate and capable professional to lead us into the future,” said Dr. LaDrina Wilson, chamber board vice chair and CEO of IMAN Consulting. “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.”