Tracee Troutt, left, with former GLI CEO Reagan
Tracee Troutt, left, with former GLI CEO Joe Reagan.

(Editor’s note: This post was updated at 2:30 p.m. on Mon., Sept. 30 with new information. Whittenberg Construction Co. dropped its membership in 2009. Whittenberg rejoined GLI on March 22, 2012. Terri Albert, Whittenberg business development manager, is a member of the GLI Economic Development Policy Committee.)

Multiple sources are telling Insider Louisville that several top, veteran Greater Louisville Inc. executives have left the chamber of commerce/economic development organization.

We’ve double confirmed those leaving include Tracee Troutt, former interim GLI CEO, and Carmen Hickerson, GLI vice president, public affairs & communications.

Sources tell Insider Louisville that as recently as last week, Troutt was leading a new GLI strategic planning effort.

Calls to GLI were not returned. GLI executives called a mandatory staff meeting for 1:30 p.m. today, according to insiders.

Attempts to reach Troutt were unsuccessful.

Hickerson confirmed via email that she is no longer with GLI as of today.

In addition to the departures of Troutt and Hickerson, GLI cut back the hours of two research department staffers and laid off a mailroom clerk who had been with the organization for 17 years.

The mailroom employee was paid $250 a week, according to insiders. GLI also laid off an administrative assistant about a month ago, according to sources.

Troutt’s exit comes about a month after Eileen Pickett resigned, effective Aug. 30, after 14 years with the economic development agency.

Sources say Pickett left voluntarily, giving the organization a six-month notification of her departure to found her own consultancy.

Troutt and Pickett made up the Office of the President, the executive support staff for departed President and CEO Joe Reagan. Both Troutt’s and Pickett’s tenures at GLI date back to the creation of GLI in 1998 as both a chamber of commerce and an economic development effort.

Reagan resigned in December 2011 to become president and CEO of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce. Troutt replaced Reagan for the 11 months leading up to the selection of Craig Richard, an economic development official from Houston, as his replacement.

New leadership often cleans house. But our inside sources say GLI finances may be playing a role in the exits.

Those sources say that GLI membership fell dramatically under Reagan’s term as CEO from more than 3,000 to about 2,000 now, a 33-percent decline.

In late 2011, Insider Louisville ran a series of stories drawing on internal documents that listed more than 1,300 companies as having dropped memberships between 2009 and 2011.

In interviews, those who dropped their memberships blamed The Great Recession, or policy disagreement with GLI executives.

The majority were small-to-medium-sized companies. But in aggregate, they had about 12,000 employees, and had been paying a total of about $700,000 in annual GLI membership fees.

A second drop list included larger companies dropping membership.

The two documents indicated the loss of $1 million in aggregate annual funding during the past three years. Moreover, a number of prominent banks, businesses and long-time chamber of commerce members left including:

• Whittenberg Construction Company, which had been a chamber of commerce member since 1992. Whittenberg executives did not return calls for comment. But the GLI notation on their membership drop stated company officials disagreed with GLI policy.

• American Synthetic Rubber Company, a large Louisville employer which had a $10,000 annual membership, according to GLI documents.

• PepsiAmerica, with 240 employees, had been a chamber member since 1950.

• King Southern Bank

• UBS Financial Services, the Louisville offices of the Zurich, Switzerland-bsaed financial services giant.

• Forcht Bank. Executives at the Lexington-based bank did not return calls for comment, but the GLI drop notation states, “Found no value in membership.”

In 2012, the Fischer Administration announced it would cut its $1 million annual contribution to GLI by $50,000.

IL will have more details about the departures in the Monday Business Briefing.

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Terry Boyd
Terry Boyd has seven years experience as a business/finance journalist, and eight years a military reporter with European Stars and Stripes. As a banking and finance reporter at Business First, Boyd dealt directly with the most influential executives and financiers in Louisville.

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