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Invest Atlanta names new CEO after abrupt shake-up

Eloisa Klementich was named the new head of Invest Atlanta on Thursday, just weeks after the previous CEO abruptly resigned.

The agency’s board of directors — led by Mayor Kasim Reed — approved the move with a unanimous vote and a round of applause during its monthly meeting.

The vote comes after Craig Richard stepped down in early January, sparking rampant speculation about his departure. Several people with knowledge of the decision said he was asked to resign, though neither Reed nor Richard have disclosed the reasons for the move publicly. It’s unclear whether his resignation is related to the hiring and subsequent firing of the chief financial officer in December.

Klementich, who had served as Invest Atlanta’s managing director of business development, competed against Richard for the top job in 2014 and was one of three finalists for the position.

Reed said that’s why the organization is forgoing a national search for Richard’s replacement. Reed and Invest Atlanta could have also faced headwinds in trying to lure a CEO from elsewhere as Reed has fewer than two years left in his term and a new mayor could make wholesale changes to city leadership.

Reed credited Klementich with having been involved “in almost every single major recruitment” effort in recent years, including snagging NCR Corp. from Gwinnett County last year.

“We think her performance following this board’s decision to go in a new direction was exemplary and her value to the organization warrants her being the CEO,” Reed said.

Klementich, who has been with the organization for four years, said she was honored to have the confidence of Reed and the board. Invest Atlanta’s recruitment pipeline is strong, she said, as is the development activity pending throughout the city. The organization plays a critical role in attracting new businesses to the city while overseeing its economic development and revitalization programs.

She said her priority will be to keep Atlanta competitive with national and international cities and to be responsive to the needs of businesses and residents. Much of that will involve working with organizations such as MARTA, local schools and other state and local economic development agencies.

“For me, the key piece is going to be the partnerships,” she said.

Prior to joining the agency, Klementich served as special assistant for economic development at the U.S. Economic Development Administration and also as California’s assistant deputy secretary for economic development and commerce, according to her online biography.