BILL JONASON, Minneapolis regional chamber of commerce

Title: Chairman

Age: 55

Bill Jonason, a corporate attorney at the Minneapolis law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, is working to promote economic growth as the new chairman of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce. Jonason said his work with businesses ranging from start-ups to large public corporations and nonprofits will help him in connecting with businesses and promoting their interests.

"The main issue is trying to accelerate the region's growth," said Jonason, who joined the chamber's board six years ago and became its chairman in January. Jonason said the chamber is focusing on transportation and regulatory reform and working with the Greater MSP public-private nonprofit partnership to promote new business development in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The chamber also is working to support education and workforce training initiatives, he said.

Among those are STEP-UP Achieve, a Minneapolis summer jobs program that offers young people paid internships with local companies. Jonason, who joined Dorsey & Whitney in 1984, has been a partner in the firm's corporate group for more than 20 years. He also is chairman of the firm's closely held businesses practice group.

Jonason has served on the chamber's board of directors since 2007 and previously was on the board of Junior Achievement. He also is on the Dorsey & Whitney Foundation board.

Q: What are your goals as chamber chairman?

A: We have been pushing for light-rail and in particular the Southwest Corridor in the short term and then, in the longer term, additional lines. We think a strong transportation system within the metro area is very important for us to be competitive. The other is continuing to focus on the workforce and education front.

Q: What's your sense of the regional economic climate today?

A: Over the last handful of years it has been a challenge for many businesses. But I'm optimistic and I think most business leaders are optimistic about prospects generally and specifically here in the metropolitan area. We have a lot of good things going for us. We're poised for growth that we hope will be above ­average and better than our counterparts across the country.

Q: What led you to specialize in business law?

A: I was an economics major in college and wrestled with going to business school or law school. I thought law would be a good choice because I could always go into business with a law background. I have focused my entire career on the business side of law and working with businesses … and getting direct experience from them in terms of issues facing them and what's important in growing their business.