HB2 not a factor in Raleigh Chamber chief's decision to quit

Posted January 11, 2017 11:42 a.m. EST
Updated January 11, 2017 10:23 p.m. EST

— The president and chief executive of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is leaving after less than two years on the job to take a new position in Florida, the group announced Wednesday.

Tim Giuliani, who came to Raleigh in the middle of 2015 from a position in Gainesville, Fla., plans to return to the Sunshine State to head a new regional economic development/chamber of commerce group in Orlando. His last day in the Triangle will be March 3.

"This was a tough personal decision to make. It has been my privilege to serve the community of Raleigh and the Triangle region," Giuliani said in a statement. "I enjoyed partnering with the dedicated staff, members and directors at the Chamber, and I know that a great future lies ahead for Raleigh."

Giuliani said Raleigh is "a great community" but Central Florida is an area with great promise like the Triangle.

"A lot of big announcements from an economic development perspective in recent years, so they have momentum, they have a great message and I think there's a lot to be excited about, but it doesn't take away how hard it is to leave Raleigh," he said.

Giuliani's tenure in the Triangle, however, coincided with the passage of the controversial House Bill 2, which requires people to use public bathrooms that match their birth gender and excludes gay and transgender people from discrimination protections.

Since it's passage in March, HB2 has cost the state millions of dollars in revenue with the cancelation of concerts, sporting events and the decision by some businesses to opt out of opening or expanding in North Carolina. Giuliani said he doesn't believe the bill factored into his decision to leave Raleigh, but said it remains a big issue and he hopes to see it repealed before he leaves.

"I do think it's bad for the reputation of this state and the people here are much more inclusive than that," he said.

Giuliani touts the Chamber's "All Are Welcome" campaign as a successful answer to HB2. He's also most proud of the Chamber's work to help pass the Wake County Transit Referendum.

"For decades, the impact of that referendum will help this community grow smartly. It will lead development patters, it will make this city even more attractive," he said.

Chamber officials credited Giuliani with helping get the Wake County Transit Plan referendum approved last fall and with the creation of 7,762 jobs and $632 million of capital investment across the region.

"The board regretfully accepts Tim’s decision, and we are truly grateful for his forward-thinking vision and guidance over the last year and a half," Raleigh Chamber Chairman Greg Winkler said in a statement. "He has led our team in strategic economic planning and development with a unique and innovative approach to fostering a thriving business community. We wish him and his family all the best as they return to their home state of Florida, and he pursues an opportunity of a lifetime. The Greater Raleigh Chamber looks forward to carrying on initiatives he helped to establish."

The board of directors has begun searching for a successor and said Senior Vice President and General Manager Janet Carr would manage the Chamber's operations until a new president is named.