After nine years leading the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce as President & CEO, Keanin Loomis is leaving the Chamber on March 4 to run for Mayor of Hamilton in this year’s municipal election.
He announced on CHCH Morning Live shortly after 8:30 am this morning.
“I’m ready to tackle a lot of the other big issues in this community and also the great opportunities that exist in Hamilton coming up,” Loomis started on-air.
“I think that there is a huge, huge appetite for change in this community in for fresh voices and new faces to be around the council table, making the important decisions for this community.”
“I’m not a politician. I’m a very political person, but not a politician. And I’m hoping that there’s an appetite for that as well. I think that what we’ve seen is, you know, the incentive structure is there, the systems are there. And they seem to be preventing authentic people with integrity and politicians from seeking these types of leadership opportunities. And so I think, would that desire for change is also the desire for politicians being around the council table and actually focused on you know, solving the issues, instead of getting clicks or likes,” he stated.
Loomis took over as head of the Chamber in 2013. At the time, the organization was trying to expand its membership while also navigating the tricky task of being a politically engaged organization.
Most notably, the Chamber has been a steadfast champion of the B-Line LRT project, and for a period of time became the leading civic organization lobbying the federal and provincial government to reach a deal to fund the project. Last year, after many previous false starts and cancellations, the federal Liberals and provincial Conservatives announced a joint agreement to fully fund the project with a budget of $3.4-billion dollars.
During the past two years of the pandemic, the Hamilton Chamber has been the lead organization in distributing rapid tests to essential and small businesses across the region. With each rapid and unexpected change in COVID regulations from the Province, the Chamber has issued clear and concise explanations of the regulations, always within hours of their announcements.
At City Hall, the Chamber has led on numerous open for business files during the pandemic, securing permissive rule changes and some temporary fee relief for some of the hardest-hit business sectors.
Loomis, a lawyer by training, was the chief operating officer of Innovation Factory before becoming Chamber head. Born in the United States, Loomis was raised in London, Ontario, added university in Waterloo and completed his law degree at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
He moved to Hamilton in 2009. He, his wife, and their three children reside in the Kirkendall neighbourhood.
“Keanin has led the complete transformation of our 176-year old institution,” said Louis Grilli, Chair of the Chamber’s Board, in a written statement.
“When he started in 2013, the Board tasked him with reestablishing the Chamber into a relevant, modern pillar institution in our community – I would say he’s done that and then some. He is leaving the organization in optimal health for his successor.”
Loomis succeeded in expanding the Chamber’s membership during the past decade and increased the Chamber’s staffing with smart hires that have increased the effectiveness of the Chamber in Hamilton and beyond at Queen’s Park and on Parliament Hill.
The Chamber states it “will initiate a nationwide search” to find its next executive head. During the search, Marie Nash, the Chamber’s Chief Operating Officer, will serve as the organization’s interim CEO.
Candidates can officially register for the election when nominations open on May 2, 2022. Election day is October 24, and the new Council term will begin on November 15.