Larson ready to serve Waterloo Chamber - Republic-Times | News

Larson ready to serve Waterloo Chamber

By on August 30, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Pictured at the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce’s meet and greet on Monday, from left, front row, are Chuck Pittman, Amy Hank, Shaundra Huebner, Laura Miller, Gary Hemmer, Chamber president George Obernagel, incoming executive director Kimberly Larson and outgoing executive director Jenny Bullock; back row: Kermit Constantine, Carol Vogt and Jessica Unger. (submitted photo)

Kimberly Larson brings six years’ experience from previous chamber of commerce leadership roles as she prepares to take on the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce executive director position.

But the St. Louis woman also carries with her an appreciation for the facets of Waterloo that define the small town, such as the historic downtown area surrounding the county courthouse.

“I think you’re wanting to protect that wonderful part of your history,” she told the Republic-Times.

For example, Larson, whose first day is slated for Sept. 11, said she has seen small business owners in downtown Waterloo take pride in caring for their facilities.

“You’ve got to recognize that and say, ‘We’re proud of that.’ There are a lot of places that don’t have that,” she said.

Larson, 57, is taking over for Jenny Bullock, who served five years as executive director. Larson was the CEO and president of the Webster Groves/Shrewsbury/Rock Hill Chamber of Commerce from 2000 to 2005. 

Following that, she spent a year as vice president, member development at the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. She is coming over from her most recent role as executive director of the Field House Museum in St. Louis.

“I miss being involved with chambers. When I came back to live in St. Louis, I went through some reflection,” she said. “And the museum has been a great blessing, but I always wanted to get back involved in chamber.”

In addition to her prior chamber experience, Larson also received certifications of the United States Chamber through the Institute for Organization management. The institute is a professional development program for association, chamber and non-profit professionals.

Waterloo Chamber of Commerce President George Obernagel announced the hiring decision Monday during a welcome reception for Larson. He said Larson brings a lot of good ideas to the table through her experience and knowledge of chamber of commerce operations.

“She might bring some new ideas. We’re going to evaluate our programs and see what we can make better,” he said.

One such idea Larson would like to bring to the role includes making economic and business development more of a regional project. In part, she said that would consist of neighboring communities — Red Bud, Hecker, Valmeyer, Columbia, Waterloo — coming together for a roundtable discussion.

“These are the questions that I have for people in the community — What would you like to see for economic development in the area? What would you like to see as far as leadership from a chamber in the county?” she said. “Because the chamber is a part of the county. Each of the smaller towns share together.”

Larson said she will eventually move to Waterloo, but does not plan to do so immediately. In the meantime, she will still work to develop a presence in the community.

“It’s very important. You have to be involved in the community,” she said.

The Waterloo Chamber of Commerce has about 275 members and hosts a member lunch the third Thursday of every month. 

For more information, visit, call 939-5300, or stop by the office located at 118 E. Third Street.

Sean McGowan

Sean is a die-hard Cubs fan, despite the relentless peer pressure coming from the rest of the Republic-Times staff. He and his wife, Jacqui, have been married for two years. Originally from the west suburbs of Chicago, Sean and his wife moved down to Normal to attend Illinois State University and stayed central Illinois residents for the past four years.