Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce chief Todd Klingel will retire for health reasons this summer after 13 years as leader of one of the state's most influential business advocacy groups.
The 63-year-old Klingel has been diagnosed with cancer. He said Friday that he wants to focus on his treatment and enjoy time with his family.
Klingel plans to step into a part-time advisory role on March 31 to help with the transition and will step down completely at the end of June.
"Right now I feel great," Klingel said in an interview. "I expect to be around awhile. It's just not with my usual energy. That's why I've made this decision while I'm in good shape to be part of the transition and help keep everything moving."
The board plans to name an interim president next week.
Klingel, who lives in Mendota Heights, became CEO of the 1,000-member Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2003. During his tenure, the organization pushed for a broader regional agenda of economic development and, in 2011, helped establish Greater MSP, a nonprofit focused on job creation, business recruitment and expansion.
The chamber played a key role in getting the Twins stadium built and was a leading business lobby for light rail transportation. It earned credit for working alongside the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce to bring businesses to the table in support of the Green Line rail that connects the two downtowns.
"When I took this job, the community was all independent fiefdoms," Klingel said. "Whether it was Bloomington, St. Paul or the age-old rivalries between Minneapolis and St. Paul."
City officials are now more apt to think about broad community benefits of projects, Klingel said.
"I think that's a big change that we helped bring about. We are one region. It's a mind-set that once you get that in place, all kinds of collaborations and great things happen," he said.
Board Chairwoman Laura McCarten said in a statement the organization will miss Klingel's "tireless efforts" to promote the chamber and region.
"He has helped shape a financially strong and dynamic chamber that has worked with other organizations in our region to advocate for the benefit of our members on a wide variety of topics and issues," she said.
After retirement, Klingel plans to spend more time in California with his children and grandchildren.
"Let's just say I will be hearing about Minnesota winters from afar," he said with a chuckle.