Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Whitley, a Batavia resident, on Thursday announced he will retire from the organization next June.
Whitley, 63, became president and CEO in September 2001. Over the years, he has been the guest speaker at many Batavia Chamber of Commerce events.
"He's certainly brought new life and new energy to the Illinois Chamber and, more broadly, to the Illinois business community," Batavia Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roger Breisch said in reacting to the news. "It's a sad day in Batavia."
Whitley, who has lived in Batavia for 20 years, said now was the right time to announce his retirement. He noted that when he steps down, he will have been in the job for more than 13 years.
"That's a good, long run," he said.
Whitley said he also wanted the Illinois Chamber to have a new leader before the 2014 gubernatorial election. During his tenure, the Illinois Chamber has represented business interests on matters including pushing for workers' compensation reform; help to defeat a proposed gross receipts tax; founding and co-chairing the Transportation for Illinois Coalition and seeking legislation to bring long-term solvency to Illinois public pension systems.
"I think we have re-established the Illinois Chamber as a significant voice for business in Illinois," Whitley said.
He said his biggest disappointment has been that "the elected officials of the state have failed to severely attack the state's high unemployment numbers."
The Illinois Chamber Board of Directors will conduct a nationwide search for a successor to Whitley, said Ray Drake, chairman of the Illinois Chairman Board of Directors.
“We thank Doug for the long advance notice, which will allow the board to work with him through a well-planned transition period that will launch the chamber’s next chapter of strong advocacy for business in Illinois,” Drake said in a statement.