Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Baker has accepted the position of president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in Michigan. Baker will begin his new duties in April. Grand Rapids is located in western Michigan, and is part of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming Metropolitan Statistical Area, pop. 776,000.
Baker's experience in the chamber of commerce field spans more than 23 years, including 17 years in the Quad Cities. He served 16 years as president and CEO of the Illinois Quad City Chamber before taking on the role of president and chief operating officer of the recently-formed Quad Cities Chamber last fall. Prior to arriving in the Quad Cities, Baker was president of the Newton, Iowa, Chamber of Commerce. He began his chamber career in Rochester, Minn., in 1987.
"The merger of the Illinois Quad City and Iowa Quad Cities Chambers amplified the visibility of our region on a national stage and increased the professional marketability of chamber staff. This new opportunity in Grand Rapids came about because of the visibility related to the merger," said Baker. "The offer from Grand Rapids was simply one that I could not turn down. Still, I will leave the Quad Cities with many fond memories and immense gratitude for those whom I've worked closely with over the years."
Tara Barney, Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce CEO, commended Baker. "I wish Rick well in his new community. He is a consummate professional and a great leader. His many years of experience helped pave the way for the chamber's transition to the current regional model; the merger simply could not have happened without Rick's support and guidance. That another chamber came knocking at his door does not surprise me. He is highly respected within our field," she said.
Baker added that he has "every confidence in the new regional model for the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce."
The Grand Rapids Area Chamber has approximately 2,800 members. "We look forward to bringing on a leader who will hit the ground running, building on the base of success we have established at the Grand Rapids Chamber," said Meg Goebel, president, Paul Goebel Group and chairperson of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.