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CEO of tourism group Tampa Bay & Co. resigns

The head of the region's chief tourism group, Tampa Bay & Co., has stepped down after less than a year on the job citing personal reasons.

Kelly Miller, who became CEO in January, gave little explanation for his resignation in a news release Wednesday morning.

"I'm at a time in my life when I had to make some very tough personal choices for the well-being of both myself and my family, which ultimately led to my decision to step down," Miller, 55, said in a prepared statement. "We have a fantastic staff, management team and board of directors … Through their leadership, I have no doubt that Tampa Bay will continue to shine and build upon the momentum we achieved from hosting the (Republican National Convention)."

The news comes just a week after the company held a high-profile annual meeting, celebrating the success of the RNC in putting the bay area under a national spotlight in August.

Jim Dean, chairman of the group's board and president of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, indicated there were no internal discussions with the board that prompted the resignation.

"Kelly surprised all of us," Dean said in an interview Wednesday. "He wanted to spend more time with his family — his family is his priority — and he thought after the annual meeting was a good time to do that."

Dean said the board appreciated Kelly's leadership this past year "to market and promote this world-class meeting, convention and vacation destination."

Miller could not be reached for comment. He moved to the Tampa Bay area with his family from Asheville, N.C., where he was executive vice president and executive director of the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau in North Carolina. He also directed international marketing and Olympic Games marketing for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau for five years.

Miller's predecessor, Paul Catoe, retired on Halloween a year ago after leading the tourism agency for more than a dozen years.

The agency is immediately beginning a national search for a new chief executive.

In the short term, the board of directors named the agency's chief financial officer, Greg Orchard, as acting president/CEO.

CEO of tourism group Tampa Bay & Co. resigns 10/31/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 8:47pm]
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