When he steps down as president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce this summer, Jim Jajuga said, none of the paths he's considering include retirement.
"I don't know if I'll ever be able to retire," Jajuga said. "I can't just give up."
On Jan. 11, Jajuga submitted his resignation as president in a letter to chamber directors. He'll officially resign on June 30 but offered to step down at any point before then if the chamber finds a suitable replacement before then. An open search for candidates has begun.
Jajuga, 64, said he had always planned to resign from the position in three to five years. He took over as president in August 2007.
"It's time to move on and turn the reins over to someone else," he said. "I really appreciate the opportunity they gave me."
Following his announcement, members of the chamber's Board of Directors said Jajuga will be leaving behind a strong, community-focused organization.
"It's going to leave a hole in the leadership of the chamber," said John Chemaly, chair of the board and president of Trinity Ambulance.
During his tenure, Jajuga said, he focused on developing greater networking opportunities for chamber members and building a stronger community presence throughout Haverhill with support and sponsorship of events such as ItalianFest and KidsFest.
He also worked toward creation of a boardwalk along the Merrimack River in downtown Haverhill, which will expand later this year.
"I've done my very best to promote a positive perception" of Haverhill, he said. "We've brought this chamber to another level."
Jajuga added one of the greatest challenges for the chamber and the local economy has been the recession that started in 2008. Although noting the forecast for the economy continues to look up, Jajuga described the recession as a "buzz saw" for business development in the area.
Paul Magliocchetti, a local attorney and board member, said Jajuga helped the board to thrive even in lean times.
"I was very impressed with his work ethic. I'm sorry to see him go," he said. "He took the position at one of the most difficult times not just in our local economy but in our national one as well. His whole tenure he's been asked to do more with less."
Cheryl Perkins, a web developer for Cheryl K. Perkins & Associates and board member from Newton, N.H., said Jajuga always took an active interest in developing businesses for New Hampshire and improving communications with Massachusetts businesses.
"He's been very much at the forefront of bringing new business to the area," she said. "He's such a go-getter. With his leadership the chamber has proven itself as a must have for businesses to join."
Joseph Bevilacqua, president of the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Jajuga worked hard for Greater Haverhill over his term.
"He did very well and should be commended for his effort," he said. "It's very difficult to run a chamber today."
Jajuga previously served six terms as a state senator representing the Merrimack Valley, including Haverhill. He's also a retired State Police drug investigator.