Iowa vs. Illinois? New Chamber CEO says don’t worry about it

DAVENPORT- It's a bit of a homecoming for new Quad Cities Chamber President Paul Rumler.

"Growing up in the the Quad Cities, I always wanted to make an impact here," Rumler said.

Rumler, a native of Moline, spent the last two years as Chief Strategy Officer of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. Before that though, he had been with the chamber and its preceding groups since 2006.

"My professional path took me away from the Quad Cities two years ago," Rumler said. "But the alignment of personal and professional goals brought me back to the Quad Cities Chamber when the CEO position was open. I was recruited back, and I was really excited to be here."

There are many challenges that come with the position though. One of them is Illinois' pension crisis. The government watchdog group Wirepoints says 20 Illinois cities should declare bankruptcy because of their rising pension debt. Two of those cities are Rock Island and Moline.

"If I look to our colleagues in Illinois, they've really done a great job in our local communities," Rumler said. "Considering their circumstances over the last ten years, they could've packed up and gone in the other direction."

A ranking from U.S. World and Report ranked Illinois worst in the nation when it comes to financial stability among states. Iowa came in better, at number 21. 

"I live in the Quad Cities," Rumler said when first asked about where he lives. "I live in Iowa," he responded when asked a second time. "This is now my fourth Quad Cities [I lived in]. I live and breathe Quad Cities. This is our job to make sure we are representing this entire Quad Cities. This is beyond a parochial borders issue and saying our chamber represents one city or another city. We represent this area equally, and our team is positioned to do that."

Rumler says there'd be a different image of this area if there weren't two states to worry about, and because of that, he wants to change the way people think about this area.

"I think we as a community focus a lot on Iowa vs. Illinois," when asked if the media focuses too much on Iowa vs. Illinois. "I want to see us as one region as a Quad Cities, because we're going to be a lot stronger. We actually have a strength that we have two states with additional resources that we can benefit from, and we have stronger representation than most other communities at the federal level. You name another community that has six congressional seats- four members of the Senate, two members of the Senate, and two members of Congress that's our size. We're very fortunate."

This is the four time Rumler has returned to the Quad Cities. He's a graduate of Georgia State University and Black Hawk College.