Longtime Raleigh business recruiter Harvey Schmitt will retire after two decades at the helm of Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber made the announcement Wednesday and said it will launch a national search for Schmitt’s successor.
Schmitt, 65, joined the Raleigh chamber 21 years ago as CEO and has spent 43 years, his entire career, as a chamber professional. The veteran recruiter is only the fourth chief executive since 1940 to head the Raleigh chamber, which was established in 1888.
In the announcement, Schmitt said he will remain in Raleigh. Prior to coming to Raleigh, Schmitt worked with chambers in South Carolina, Florida and Iowa.
“I do not plan to retire from work,” Schmitt said. “I do plan to take some time to recharge my batteries.”
Schmitt, working with regional and state economic developers in coordination with the Triangle’s business elites, helped oversee the transformation of Raleigh from a sleepy backwater to a New South metropolis with a vibrant restaurant scene and emerging technology hub that consistently rates high on lists for best places to work and live.
“The many rankings we receive don’t happen by accident,” Schmitt said in the statement, crediting community leaders and advocates.
Schmitt was involved in the recruitment of technology developer Red Hat to a downtown office to replace Progress Energy, which was bought by Charlotte-based Duke Energy and vacated one of its two office towers.
He also helped attract RBC Bank, since acquired by PNC but still in Raleigh. And he worked on the creation of the Raleigh Convention Center and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
The chamber was also active in occasional political controversies, such as passing over $3 billion in school construction bonds in the past decade.
The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is the largest business chamber in the Triangle, with more than 2,300 members.