One of downtown Raleigh’s largest promotional groups will soon be without its longtime leader.
David Diaz is leaving his role as President and CEO of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, a nonprofit organization that aims to revitalize the downtown area. Known as DRA, the organization produces events such as Restaurant Week, First Friday and the downtown Farmers Market.
Diaz joined DRA in 2007 and is leaving to become the president of Tysons Partnership in Fairfax County, Va., according to a DRA announcement. His last day will be March 10.
In the release, Diaz thanked the community for its support and said he’s proud of the organization’s accomplishments over the last decade.
“As this new position gives me a chance to move closer to family, it was an opportunity I could not turn down,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, I will always remain a champion of Raleigh and look forward to assisting during this transition in every way I can.”
The area DRA serves is roughly defined by Peace Street in the north, Glenwood Avenue in the west, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the South and Blount Street in the east, in addition to Moore Square.
Diaz, a native of Puerto Rico, arrived in Raleigh from a similar job in Roanoke, Va., when Raleigh was in the process of reopening Fayetteville Street to traffic and constructing the convention center.
DRA’s budget, which is generated by a special tax on downtown property owners and private donations, doubled to $2.1 million from $900,000 during Diaz’s time at the helm. Its staff grew from five full-time employees to 11 full-time employees.
In 2016, downtown Raleigh businesses sold more than $200 million in food and drinks for the first time ever. That figure was 7 percent higher than 2015 and 77 percent higher than 2009.
His departure is “a testament to the exceptional work he has done in elevating downtown Raleigh as a unique business and leisure destination,” Jon Wilson, chairman of DRA’s Board of Directors, wrote in a press release.
“David leaves DRA well-positioned to capitalize on the momentum of the revitalization of the downtown area and enhancing the quality of life and its economic success,” Wilson wrote.
It’s unclear when the DRA board will hire a new CEO. DRA will conduct a national search to replace Diaz, Wilson said. The organization’s annual meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16 at the Raleigh Convention Center.