The West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce (WCC) has hired Raj Kudchadkar as its new CEO. He was set to start his new position on Nov. 1.

Kudchadkar has been serving as deputy director of the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning; previously he worked as the executive director of the Howard County Office of Military Affairs and, earlier, as director of the Base Business Initiative.

“We are extremely pleased to find someone of Raj’s qualifications to take over leadership of the West County Chamber at a time of dynamic growth and change for Anne Arundel County and for Central Maryland,” said West County Chamber Board Chairman Randy Fisher. “His previous involvement with Fort Meade through the Base Business Initiative, his governmental experience through Howard County, as well as his vast contacts throughout Anne Arundel County, make him a natural choice to succeed Claire Louder as our next CEO.

“Raj helped establish and run a successful small business development program that started with 20 minority businesses and grew to over 3,000 members in less than two years,” he said.

“He has the type of entrepreneurial spirit that any chamber would want. We are pleased that West County has found someone with this type of tremendous talent. We look forward to his leadership to help guide both West County in the near term, and help take the chamber to the next level in the future.”

“Western Anne Arundel County has a trifecta of assets — Fort Meade, Maryland Live! Casino and Odenton Town Center — that represent some of the largest economic engines in Maryland,” said Kudchadkar. “Such regional economic growth doesn’t happen on its own; a productive chamber is needed to bring together key resources and stakeholders to support and cultivate a vibrant business community. The West County Chamber is such a chamber, and I couldn’t be more excited to lead this organization into the future.”

Kudchadkar replaces Claire Louder as CEO. Louder has been CEO of the WCC since February of 2007. Louder announced her plan to resign in December 2015 in order to join her husband in Charleston, S.C., once the chamber could hire a suitable replacement.

“Claire has been an integral force in the development of the chamber ever since she joined the chamber nearly 10 years ago,” Fisher said. “She has equally been key to the chamber’s success in finding her replacement. The chamber will benefit for years to come because of her work in revitalizing the chamber and her help in taking it to the next level.”

Louder plans to work as a consultant to various nonprofit organizations throughout the country in her new role, as president of Louder Nonprofit Strategies.

“I can’t think of anyone better than Raj to take over the leadership of the West County Chamber and build on what we’ve started,” said Louder. “Having worked with Raj for years on BRAC initiatives, I know he will quickly grasp the issues important to our members.”