October 22, 2018
Politics & Opinion
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Changes For Our Chambers Of Commerce

Steve Schuh
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April 3, 2018

Anne Arundel County has been blessed with a number of vibrant, active chambers of commerce that represent the interests of small business owners at the state and local level. The success of these chambers is a direct result of the effective leadership of their executive directors.

The last two years have witnessed a sea change in the leadership for the county’s chambers, as many of these incredible business advocates have retired or moved. Anne Arundel County benefited from their more than 60 years of collective guidance.

First to leave us was Claire Louder of the West County Chamber. Claire’s energetic leadership led to a doubling of the chamber’s membership and an expansion of staff to provide better service to members. She led the development of the Odenton Town Center. She has also helped bring other businesses to the area, including Ruth's Chris Steak House and Baltimore Coffee and Tea. Claire’s departure coincided with the merging of the West County Chamber with other chamber organizations to create the Central Maryland Chamber of Commerce. This new chamber is headed by the forward-thinking Raj Kudchadkar.

The North County Chamber then announced the retirement of its hardworking CEO, Fran Schmidt. Since 2005, Fran led businesses through the great recession, and the area has seen a boom of housing construction and increased revitalization efforts from both the county and the state. She leaves a legacy of tenacity and focus that served the residents and Glen Burnie and Brooklyn Park well.

Also retiring is the long-serving and upbeat Linda Zahn, CEO of the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce. Through her 27 years of service, Linda was the force behind many events and activities, such as summer networking cookouts for chamber members, and holiday traditions for the greater community, such as the annual Christmas tree lighting and the Taste and Sip showcase of food and beverage merchants.

Finally, Bob Burdon, who has served as the visionary leader of Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce since 1997, will leave his role as president and CEO on June 1. Under his leadership, the chamber advanced critical projects like Park Place, Arundel Mills and Annapolis Towne Center at Parole. Bob also pioneered the Commerce Hall of Fame, an initiative that honors local business leaders, and the annual legislative breakfast, which brings together leaders from across Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

These individuals deserve our thanks for their effective advocacy on behalf of businesses across our county. While Anne Arundel County businesspeople are sorry to see each of them each go, we wish them all the best in their well-deserved retirements and next adventures.

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