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Major changes are under way at the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce Visitor and Convention Bureau, which announced Friday that president and CEO Carlotta Ungaro will leave in April to take the top job at the chamber in Morrisville, N.C.
News of Ungaro's departure came on the same day the organization formally decided to split the chamber and its visitor and convention bureau into separate entities. The chamber will focus on business growth, and the bureau will focus on tourism.
Ungaro joined the chamber in January 2006 after serving as vice president of governmental affairs at the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
"This was my first job as head of a chamber," Ungaro said. "Beaufort's been a good experience. It would have been better if the recession hadn't hit."
Ungaro touted her work to increase tourism funding for the chamber, increase programming, build partnerships and successfully lobby to ensure the military's next generation of fighter jets, the F-35, comes to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
"Carlotta has done a fantastic job building this chamber," chamber board chairman Jimmy Boozer said in a news release. "Her focus on supporting businesses, the execution of Operation F-35 Beaufort and her lobbying efforts to improve the business climate has been phenomenal."
Morrisville, a town of about 15,000, is between Raleigh and Durham in the Research Triangle region.
Ungaro said she will miss Beaufort and the friends she has made, but she's looking forward to the change.
The chamber plans to form a search committee to fill her position, she said.
Officials also will be working through the details of the chamber and visitor and convention bureau's split, which board members approved Friday.
Tourism ranks as the Beaufort region's top nongovernmental industry, officials have said.
The chamber has long worked to attract tourists, but that emphasis became more formal when it formed the visitor and convention bureau in March 2009, VCB executive director Bob Moquin said last month.
Both chamber and visitor and convention board leaders said in February the groups have reached a point where their individual missions would be better served as separate organizations.
The spin-off is expected to take about a year, while the VCB establishes itself as a new nonprofit organization, according to a chamber news release.