MANITOBA Chambers of Commerce officials didn't have to look far -- less than a block down the street -- to find a replacement for retiring president and CEO Graham Starmer.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce vice-president Chuck Davidson will take over the top executive reins when Starmer steps down early next month after 18 years in the post.
And it should be a fairly smooth transition for the married father of two, who was born in Toronto but grew up in northern Manitoba.
For one thing, his new office is less than a block away from his old Portage Avenue office. But more importantly, he'll also handle many of the same duties he handled during his 10-year stint as the Winnipeg Chamber's vice-president.
In that role, Davidson directed the group's research and policy activities, was its primary liaison with government on policy and lobbying activities and co-ordinated all of its communications and public relations activities.
And because the Manitoba chamber has a smaller staff than the Winnipeg chamber, he'll handle a lot of those same chores as its president and CEO.
Davidson also expects to deal with many of the same key issues he deals with in his current job -- the economy, taxation levels, government budgets and workforce-related matters.
But because the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce represents more than 60 chambers from across the province, he'll also deal with issues unique to rural communities. And having grown up in the northern mining town of Snow Lake will be a plus.
"I think I will be looked upon as someone who understands rural Manitoba and has an understanding of what some of the issues are in rural Manitoba."
As a senior executive with the Winnipeg chamber, Davidson also had extensive dealings with chamber officials at both the provincial and national levels.
"So I have a good understanding of the chamber network and know who all the players are..." he added.
Manitoba chamber chairwoman Carol Paradine also made reference to that when announcing Davidson's appointment.
"Chuck brings a wealth of experience from his years within the chamber network," she said in a written statement. "His leadership and communication skills will be integral in meeting the chamber's mission -- to foster a dynamic economy and vibrant communities, making Manitoba the best place in which to live, work, invest and raise a family."
Prior to joining the Winnipeg chamber in February 2004, Davidson worked for four years as press secretary for the Conservative Party of Manitoba and for six years as a reporter with local radio station CJOB.