The Union County Chamber of Commerce will conduct a national search for a new president and chief executive officer following the resignation of Eric S. Phillips.

The Union County Chamber of Commerce will conduct a national search for a new president and chief executive officer following the resignation of Eric S. Phillips.

David Thorbahn, chairman of the chamber's board of directors, said the group's executive committee will oversee the search.

Phillips, who also serves as the executive director of the Union County-Marysville Joint Economic Development Partnership, announced Tuesday that he submitted his resignation.

Phillips has accepted a similar position with the northwestern Ohio community of Findlay, where he will serve as the community's leader for economic development and business advocacy. Phillips will assume the presidency of GreaterFindlayInc. in September.

He succeeds Douglas Peters, who left that position in June to become president of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce in Fayetteville, N.C.

"We hate to lose Eric's outstanding leadership in championing business development," Thorbahn said. "However, we wish him well in his new position."

Phillips has spent the past seven years heading up the Union County-Marysville Economic Development Partnership and Union County Chamber of Commerce. During his tenure, Union County and Marysville have been one of the fastest growing counties and cities in Ohio.

Phillips said the decision to leave Marysville and Union County was not an easy one.

"It was the toughest decision I have ever had to make, from a career standpoint, to leave a job that you really love and I do love this community" he said. "I missed some sleep over this decision. It was not an easy decision to leave Marysville and Union County."

In his new role, Phillips will also serve as vice president of the Blanchard Valley Port Authority. His will earn an annual salary of $96,000 as vice president of the port authority. Since GreaterFindlayInc. is a private agency, his pay for that position has not been disclosed.

Phillips said he did not seek out the Findlay position.

"I was not actively looking," he said. "A head hunter called me and asked me if I was interested and I said I wasn't. He asked me again and talked me into going on an interview and that's how it all came down."

In addition to overseeing the current wave of business development in Marysville, Phillips also helped land a $500,000 grant that led to the development of the Richwood Industrial Park, a $3.6-million grant for the Job Ready Site on Scotts-lawn Road and worked with the village of Plain City to create a Community Reinvestment Area in downtown Plain City.

Despite his success, Phillips refused to take all the credit himself.

"This is a great community," he said. "There are a lot of great political leaders who have taken some real steps forward here. It isn't easy to leave a situation like this. This has been a great organization to work for. The chamber board is exceptional. The staff here is exceptional. When I told our staff I was leaving, that was tough. I was holding back some tears."

Phillips said the goal is for his successor to be named within 90 days.

jdonahue@thisweeknews.com