New chamber CEO sees `really good fit' in Howard County

Williams, 34, to succeed Riemer, 66, who is retiring

August 04, 1999|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,SUN STAFF

A 34-year-old career chamber of commerce executive from upstate New York will be the new president/CEO of the Howard chamber, starting Sept. 7, when new chamber officers will also take office.

Kenneth M. Williams, president of the Geneva New York Area Chamber of Commerce, replaces Michael G. Riemer, 66, who has held the job for 15 months. Riemer announced his retirement in April.

Williams, who was chosen from among 71 applicants, spent several days in the county last month. He plans to begin house hunting in Columbia this weekend, he said. "We're hoping to plant our roots there," he said.

"This is a really good fit for me," Williams, a Connecticut native, said about the Howard post. He was looking -- but not urgently -- to move to a larger organization after three years in Geneva. He had moved there in 1992 from Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

He will be moving from a 500-member chamber in a small community between Syracuse and Rochester to booming Howard's 900-member organization, which he hopes to grow to more than 1,000 members soon.

"I really look to be part of the community as a whole, be part of it and be vocal from the business standpoint," he said.

With a 4-year-old daughter preparing for kindergarten and his wife, Cathy, working to finish a master's program in high school counseling, Williams should not find it difficult to become involved in the community.

Riemer said he was impressed with Williams' "youthful exuberance." Riemer added that the business advocacy group needs someone with Williams' chamber leadership experience who can recognize the business needs of the community.

"He can do that. He has an interest in growing. So many of us are starting to look at the long tooth," Riemer joked about his own age.

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