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Business: I.C. Area Chamber's New Leader to Pursue Local, Regional Balance

Zack Kucharski

The Gazette

January 27, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

CORALVILLE — Nancy Quellhorst, new Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, says the Iowa City area business community must balance a regional approach on economic, social and environmental initiatives with the individual offerings of each community.

    Quellhorst, 48, was introduced Thursday as the new chamber president. She starts Feb. 6, when the Iowa City-area delegation of business and elected officials travels to Washington, D.C., for an annual lobbying trip.

    ‘‘Collectively we’re going to be able to make some great strides,’’ said Quellhorst, who has worked since 2004 as vice president of The Environmental Project, the group proposing the $180 million indoor rain forest. ‘‘The regional approach is the only way to be competitive.’’

    While Cedar Rapids and Iowa City bring together different, yet complementary, needs and opportunities, Quellhorst said, it is important that the area communities maintain their own identities.

    ‘‘We have so much to celebrate,’’ she said.

    Quellhorst is confident she will hit the ground running because of her experience working with the region’s elected officials and business leaders, but said she plans on spending a good share of her first few months listening to member concerns.

    ‘‘I don’t anticipate coming in and laying out my platform, but want to be a good listener and make sure we’re representing the businesses in a way they deserve,’’ she said.

    Quellhorst, chosen from a field of 45 applicants and six finalists, succeeds Jim Griffin, who resigned last July after 11 months on the job. Her salary was not disclosed.

    Joan Benson, Iowa City Area Chamber board chairwoman, said the organization held off on hiring a new president because of internal restructuring. She said Quellhorst’s ability to connect different sectors and quiet leadership will help the organization move forward.

    ‘‘Her professional life seems to have been lived right between the business, education and non-profit communities, and that’s exactly where the chamber is,’’ Benson said. ‘‘It’s perfect experience to come in this with.’’

    Quellhorst has experience with the chamber working with The Workplace Learning Connection, which provides work-based learning opportunities with area businesses.