Rob Karr was named president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association this month after the board unanimously chose him to replace retiring head David F. Vite.
Vite, who is now IRMA’s president emeritus, mentored Karr during his 20 years as a lobbyist for IRMA.
“It is an honor to lead this Association,” Karr said. “I look forward to representing the creative, energetic and dynamic retailers of this great state for years to come.”
Born in Chicago, Karr began at IRMA as the manager of government affairs in 1994, where he learned the inner workings of state government. He said while every leader brings a unique style to his or her organization, the overall mission of the group does not change.
“Advocacy is at the core of IRMA’s mission,” Karr said. “My becoming president of IRMA doesn’t change that core mission. I will be every bit as involved as I have been with state government relations and even more involved with the Chicago Retail Merchants Association’s efforts in the City of Chicago. I will also support the day-to-day efforts of IRMA Vice President and General Counsel Tanya Triche and IRMA Government Relations Manager Alec Laird.”
Karr said Illinois retailers face “a general lack of appreciation for the importance of retail to the economy of Illinois as a whole,” adding that the state’s top priority should be to encourage retail development.
“It is in everyone’s best interests to ensure the retail sector is healthy and Illinois is well-positioned to attract the limited capital investment retail companies have on an annual basis,” Karr said. “Retailers will go where they will receive the best return on investment. Illinois’ top priority should be to ensure Illinois is at the top of the list.”