Asheville Chamber CEO and president retiring — but not quite yet

The announcement on Jan. 20 that Rick Lutovsky is planning to retire from the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce actually comes in the middle of a yearlong transition for the 10-year CEO and president of the organization.

Lutovsky tells Xpress that he first made the announcement to the Chamber's board of directors last fall, and he isn't planning to leave until this September.

The decision to make the news public now, he said, was made to provide ample time for the board to conduct a search for a new CEO and possibly give him a chance to show the new head honcho around.

Lutovsky says the move (he prefers the word transition to retirement) was prompted largely from a discussion within his family.

"My wife is a recent cancer survivor and has asked the question to me regarding time we have to spend together and some things we haven't had the opportunity to do," he said. "We felt this was the right time for us and probably for the organization as well."

The search for a new CEO and president will be handled by the Chamber's executive committee, with the final selection made by the board of directors, though Lutovsky says he may be tapped as an advisor in the process.

Despite the ongoing recession, Lutovsky sees interest stirring in Asheville's economic future, including some 35 business prospects from both inside and outside the region that are currently in touch with the Chamber and represent, he says, "millions of dollars of investment into the community and over 2,000 jobs."

"There's a lot of pent-up demand in this economy," he says. "People have been putting plans off and now they're beginning to resurface again. It's a good sign that we have that many that are interested in this area."

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