The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce has named the president and CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce in Florida as its new top executive.
The Raleigh chamber announced Tuesday that Tim Guiliani, who has led the Gainesville organization since 2012, will succeed Harvey Schmitt. Schmitt announced in October that he was retiring after two decades at the helm of the Raleigh chamber, which has more than 2,300 members.
Giuliani, 33, ranks among the youngest chamber CEOs in the country. By contrast, Schmitt is retiring at age 66.
Giuliani “has done a lot in his short career,” said Jill Heath, who chaired the committee that worked on finding a new CEO with the help of executive search firm Waverly Partners. “It’s really not an age thing. You either get it or you don’t get it.”
“I think he is going to bring a fresh spirit,” Heath added. “He’s going to do things differently, but change is good.” Heath is president and CEO of Mulkey Engineers & Consultants, a civil engineering firm.
Ed Willingham, who chairs the Raleigh chamber’s board of directors, called Giuliani “a high-energy, high-integrity guy focused on public policy and the kinds of things that make communities great.” Willingham is chief operating officer at First Citizens Bank.
During his tenure in Gainesville, Giuliani, helped attract nearly $400 million in capital investment and more than 750 new jobs were created, according to the Gainesville Chamber’s website.
The website also touts that the Gainesville Chamber added more than 200 new members with Giuliani in charge and “successfully advocated for public policy decisions on key business and community issues such as energy, transportation and streamlining regulations.”
Guiliani has been president and CEO of both the Gainesville Chamber and its economic development division, the Council for Economic Outreach. Similarly, the Raleigh Chamber runs Wake County Economic Development.
John Carlson, who chairs the Gainesville chamber, said he’s sorry to see Giuliani go.
“However, I’m not surprised,” he said. “I think Raleigh made a great decision to bring Tim up there.”
Carlson said Guiliani was instrumental in a fund-raising effort that attracted a little more than $6 million for the chamber’s economic development efforts – twice as much as the prior campaign.
Carlson also praised Guiliani for assembling “an outstanding team around him” and for knowing “how to organize an organization to meet its mission.”
Giuliani, who is expected to move into his new role at the Raleigh Chamber by Aug. 1, said he wasn’t looking for a job when he was contacted by Waverly Partners about two months ago.
“There are very few places I would be willing to leave Gainesville for,” he said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for my family and I to move to the Research Triangle, and Raleigh specifically, and help write the next chapter of a really amazing success story.”
Giuliani said that one of his strengths is “the ability to be collaborative, to work with business, eduction, the public sector.” Collaboration, he added, “made the Research Triangle what it is today.”
Before he joined the Gainesville Chamber, Giuliani was vice president of corporate outreach and engagement for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. There he led successful efforts to pass legislation creating the $500 million Florida Growth Fund, which invests in technology and growth companies and other businesses; and an initiative to expand small businesses’ access to capital by nearly $1 billion.
Giuliani has bachelor’s degrees in economics and communications from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Sarah, have two sons and a daughter.
Schmitt joined the Raleigh Chamber as CEO 22 years ago. Among the businesses he helped recruit are business software giant Red Hat and RBC Bank, before it was acquired by PNC, both of which relocated to downtown Raleigh. Those moves helped spear the ongoing renaissance of the downtown area.
Schmitt also worked on building the Raleigh Convention Center and the creation of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
“It’s hard to replace a legend,” Willingham said. “I tell people we’re not trying to replace Harvey. We just trying to begin the next chapter with a new leader.”