SOUTH KINGSTOWN – In a one-sentence press release, the Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce announced Monday morning that Joseph J. Iacoi will no longer serve as executive director.
“The Southern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and Joseph J. Iacoi wish to announce the conclusion to Joe’s work at the Chamber and each extends the other best wishes for success in the future,” the statement read.
Suspicion of internal affairs at the chamber began to arise in the community when Iacoi- who served as director since April 2009- stopped coming to the office in early February. The chamber did not explain what caused Iacoi to not return to work.
In an interview Monday, chamber board member Terry Simpson, an attorney for Kelly, Kelleher, Reilly & Simpson, stated the 20-member board will “look at options and consider what is best for its membership and the chamber.”
Simpson said the board will look at models of successful chambers to determine how best to serve its membership.
Chamber Chair, Clay Johnson, referred media calls to Simpson.
Simpson did not know what the salary would be for Iacoi’s replacement. However, according to the 990 tax return of the chamber, the 501(6) nonprofit paid Iacoi $52,180 annual salary in 2011.
Simpson suggested the future replacement may take the shape of one individual or multiple people who divide tasks.
“That’s what we’re trying to decide,” Simpson said.
The announcement follows a strenuous period for the chamber.
In July 2011, the chamber changed its name from South Kingstown Chamber to the Southern Rhode Island Chamber, angering the four other local business organizations – Narragansett, Charlestown, Greater Westerly Pawcatuck Area and North Kingstown. To fight the action, the four chambers formed the United Chambers of Commerce and filed a temporary injunction against the name change in December 2011. In January, Washington Superior Court Judge Brian Stern ruled in favor of the chamber, allowing it to keep its name.
While the dispute over its name change was resolved, later on Jan. 23, the chamber requested a $7,000 tax exemption on its property located at 230 Old Tower Hill Road, Wakefield – a request that caused a division among South Kingstown Town Council members who supported it and those who opposed it. Later in March, the chamber withdrew its request and applied for a tax contribution of the same amount instead – which the town had provided since 1991. Though the council approved the tax contribution in its preliminary budget in March, town resident, Deborah Bergner, has petitioned against its final adoption.