Business Alliance chief resigns


Like city managers, heads of chambers of commerce or economic development agencies apparently don't last long. Joe Raso, who came here less than three years ago, is heading out.

You might recall that Mike Kazmierski also left, in 2011, after working for the Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. for many years. He's now in Reno where, reportedly, jobs are flooding into that community.

Here's the release about Raso from the Regional Business Alliance, which is the organization that used to be the chamber/economic development corporation.
Raso: On his way out. - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Raso: On his way out.
The Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance (Business Alliance) announced today that Mr. Joe Raso has tendered his resignation as the organization's President & Chief Executive Officer.

The Executive Committee has appointed Board member Mr. Toby Gannett to temporarily serve as the Board-designated leader of the Business Alliance until an interim President and CEO are identified. Joe is committed to assuring a smooth and seamless leadership transition.

It is with regret that we accept Joe's resignation. He has succeeded in positioning the organization for the next chapter of growth and we understand his desire to now pursue a new challenge that best makes use of his skills and expertise.

This is a pivital point in the organization as we move into our next phase of growth. Along with the Board leadership, we have determined the end of the year an appropriate time to transition the President & CEO position while our new Board members and Chair are beginning their terms.

The Board will seek the best qualified candidate to fill the President & CEO position, as it did when Joe was hired. However, it is our preference that both the interim and permanent candidate have extensive local experience and a strong community bond to take on the critical local issues we now face. We will look to the membership and the community to help us identify qualified potential candidates.

Joe was hired as President & CEO in March 2012 to lead the Business Alliance, created from the merger of what was then the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation and to navigate the transition stage of the organization's history. He possessed the exact skills and expertise we needed two and a half years ago, having led turn-arounds for several unique business development organizations. In the Business Alliance, Joe has strategically built a new business development organization and created a platform for economic growth in the Pikes Peak region. He has expertly led the Business Alliance and the community in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, public policy, workforce development, and the retention and recruitment of base sector business.

The Business Alliance will continue to move forward implementing our five-year strategic business plan and will keep in place the governance structure that Joe and the staff, working alongside the Board, have developed. Joe has worked tirelessly to help us successfully develop the focal points of our mission in the areas of business development, defense development, community development/legislative affairs, and branding/communications/public relations. He has exceeded the goals we established for him and for the organization; he has provided us a compass for reaching new heights.

We now face numerous community issues that didn't exist two years ago, such as the City for Champions project, the Stormwater Initiative, the local political structure, defense industry sequestration, and local impacts of a potential military Base Realignment And Closure (BRAC)/downsizing.

Joe has built a solid foundation for us to now bring more community involvement around the organization for facing these critical issues by supporting, nurturing and taking the Business Alliance to the next level of innovation and vibrancy.

"It is with a great deal of pride in the stellar organization we have created together, coupled with a heavy heart because I will no longer be working with the volunteers, professional staff, and Member Investors as I transition my energy to other opportunities in community and business development," said Joe. "I am proud of our accomplishments over the past 30 months. Together, we have successfully undergone a transformation, having built a new organization that is poised to meet the challenges of the future."

"I am sincerely grateful for the support the staff and I have received from the Board of Directors, our Member Investors and community supporters. My hope and desire is that the Pikes Peak region will work to continue breaking down silos across major institutions that support economic growth - education, government, business, arts and culture, military, and non-profits," said Joe. "If this can be done in a way that supports and empowers young-minded talent, then the future of the region will be very bright indeed."

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, we ask for the continued support of our Member Investors and supporters as we move into the next phase of growth as an organization and economic vitality as a community. We thank Joe for everything he helped us accomplish during the pivotal initial development phase of the Business Alliance. The organization and our community are solidly positioned for the truly great things we know are ahead as we work to realize our full economic potential.

Tom Neppl
Chair, Board of Directors
Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance

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