After a little more than a year on the job, the top executive with the Greater Richmond Partnership, a regional economic development organization for the city and several surrounding counties, is resigning.
Lara Fritts, president and CEO of the partnership since August 2019, is leaving her position effective Nov. 30.
Her departure was announced in an email sent this week by the partnership chairwoman, Leslie Haley, to the organization’s investors, which include businesses, local governments and organizations in the region that support its economic development efforts.
The partnership, created in 1994, recruits businesses to the city of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico.
“Lara has shared that this was a difficult decision because she has enjoyed learning about the Greater Richmond region and working with the professional staff of GRP as well as the business leaders in the community,” Haley wrote in the email. “Ultimately, she has decided to leave GRP to pursue new professional opportunities which better align with her interests.”
Neither Fritts nor Haley could be reached for direct comment.
Haley’s email said Jennifer Wakefield will serve as the partnership’s interim president and CEO while the group’s board works to identify a permanent leader. Wakefield is chief operating officer, and she previously has served as interim CEO.
Fritts was hired by the partnership in June 2019 after a national search. She previously worked as director of the economic development department for Salt Lake City as well as CEO of the Redevelopment Agency of Salt Lake City. She had been in Salt Lake since June 2016.
Fritts replaced Barry I. Matherly, who left the top role at the partnership in December 2018 after 3½ years to lead a similar group in Detroit. Before Matherly, the partnership was led by Gregory H. Wingfield from its 1994 founding until his retirement in 2015.
Haley’s email said Fritts has “spearheaded key efforts such as identifying and redefining how GRP assesses marketing prospects and how the organization pursues those prospects.”
Fritts also played a key role in reassessing the organization’s marketing goals and outlining how and when the organization would take credit for when projects locate to the region, the message said.
“We are thankful for the work Lara has done to help grow our community and to continue to professionalize our economic development organization,” Haley wrote.