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The Daily Tar Heel

Chamber President Harper Steps Down

A local official who has served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce for eight and a half years is moving on to another occupation.

While it is not yet clear who will take over his vacated post, Joel Harper, who served as president of the chamber, will start working with International Business Machines on Nov. 17.

"I've accepted a position at International Business Machines at the Research Triangle Park," he said. "I was asked to come (there) about six weeks ago."

Clain Anderson, program director responsible for marketing development and alliances for the company, said Harper would be working as a Net-Vista Program Manager.

"Joel is an outstanding individual," Anderson said. "His job will be putting together alliances with other companies who produce hardware and software."

Anderson said he hand-picked Harper to be a program manager.

"I was fortunate enough to know Joel because I live in Chapel Hill," Anderson said. "I knew what his skills and capabilities were, so I asked him.

"It's a fantastic job. It will give him a lot of opportunities for (mobility)."

Robert Humphreys, executive director of the Downtown Commission, said members of the chamber would miss Harper, but they said they were proud of him. "He's done a tremendous job for the Chapel Hill (Chamber of) Commerce," Humphreys said. "When he came here, the (Chamber of) Commerce was in a real low point."

Humphreys said Harper was responsible for fixing most of the broken parts within the chamber. "He pretty much turned things around and got it back in good financial standing and restored the credibility of the organization," he said.

Humphreys said he thought the transition would be a nice change for Harper. "I think it will be a new challenge for him, and that had something to do with his willingness to entertain a new position," Humphreys said. "Joel is young enough and energetic enough.

"He's the person who is looking for that challenge," he said. "It's a new dragon he'll be able to slay."

Harper said the one thing he would miss from working with the commerce was helping business people make connections.

"The best part is watching business people improve business," Harper said.

Harper got his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University and received a masters degree in Public Administration from UNC.

Although he said he had mixed emotions, Harper said he is ultimately optimistic about joining IBM.

"I'm very sad about leaving a wonderful job, but I'm excited about the new responsibilities that await me," Harper said. "I'm going to stay where IBM puts me and go from there."

The City Editor can be reached


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