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Dick Fleming's replacement at the RCGA?

by Craig Cheatham

Posted on December 5, 2011 at 10:27 PM

(KMOV)--Joe Reagan, the apparent favorite to replace outgoing RCGA President and CEO Dick Fleming, is feeling the heat of criticism in Louisville, where Reagan is the chief executive of the local chamber of commerce.

The most frequent complaints focus around Reagan's compensation, which was $296,000 last year, and the area's relatively weak economic development. Though Louisville has struggled, it's unfair to blame everything on the chamber and its highly paid leader. Still, it's a familiar scenario.

Overpaid? Underperforming? The same questions hounded Fleming for years. 

In Louisville, the metro government has given the chamber, also known as Greater Louisville, Inc., $1 million a year, about triple the amount the RCGA receives from municipalities in the St. Louis region. WFPL radio reports the Metro (Louisville) Council hasn't given the chamber all of its funding for the year. "The Metro Council will review the agency’s progress in January before awarding the remaining $500,000," according to the station website. As Mayor-elect Greg Fischer raised concerns about the performance of the chamber, but he still requested $1 million in government funds for GLI.  

I talked with Reagan briefly about his pursuit of the RCGA job. He told me he's been interviewed twice by the search committee and confirmed he's a finalist for the position. The GLI is a very large chamber with many different programs. Reagan would seem to be a logical fit if you are looking for a predictable choice who would need a short amount of time to come up to speed.

The second finalist for the RCGA job is Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, the Director of Lambert Airport. She has never held a position like the one at the RCGA. Hamm-Niebruegge understands the needs of the airport better than anyone. If the RCGA is going to play a major role in building the regional economy around Lambert, then she could be an interesting fit for an organization that is getting increasing pressure to reinvent itself. She declined to comment.

Who will it be?

Dick Fleming is expected to retire at the end of the year. The decision on his replacement could come at any time.