Business Oregon Executive Director Tim McCabe will retire from his position at the end of May, according to a press release from Gov. John Kitzhaber's office Tuesday afternoon.
Kitzhaber has named Sean Robbins, chief executive officer of Greater Portland Inc., as his replacement, according to the release. He will start in his new position on June 1.
McCabe has headed the state's economic development agency for six years and previously worked as a public policy adviser for former Gov. Ted Kulongoski and worked for regional utility PacifiCorp.
He recently made headlines when he fired Oregon Arts Commission Executive Director Chris D'Arcy, a move that resulted in the resignation of several commission board members. McCabe's office never offered an explanation for the firing, although D'Arcy said he told her leadership had a different vision for the arts commission and Oregon Cultural Trust.
Robbins runs Greater Portland, a public-private partnership that is aimed at growing the economy in the Portland area. Previously, he worked as vice president of Thrive, a similar partnership in Madison, Wis. He started at Greater Portland in 2011.
Kitzhaber praised McCabe in his statement.
"Tim has been an incredible asset to Oregon, working tirelessly for communities in every region of the state," he said. "I am proud of the work he has accomplished ... Tim has carried out our economic development policy with great professionalism and enthusiasm."
He said Robbins is the right person to succeed McCabe.
"Oregon's economy is moving in the right direction," he said. "We need to maintain our focus to ensure our economic recovery reaches every corner of the state."
McCabe wrote to several colleagues Tuesday morning to announce his retirement, and he said Kitzhaber's office announced his departure and replacement before he was ready.
"This is not the way I envisioned breaking this news to you ... as I would much prefer doing this in person," he wrote from a business trip in Brazil. "But as things go, news was coming out and I believe I owe you all the respect of telling you myself."
Kitzhaber's spokeswoman Rachel Wray said it was simply a matter of "word just leaking out a bit" and said she didn't know how long the decision had been official or how long the search for McCabe's replacement had gone on.
In an email to all Business Oregon staff, McCabe said he was retiring "with no small amount of sadness" and said he was proud of the work he had done with the agency and the relationships he had made.
"As I polish up the golf clubs and get ready to spend time with my family, including a new granddaughter on the way, I would just like to thank you again for your friendship and your work during my time here," he wrote. "Retirement, while something I've been looking forward to, also of course brings trepidation, but I do so knowing that I can still be in touch with the good friends I've made and that I've left the state and the agency in a great position for the future."