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SLO Chamber CEO to retire

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After 38 years heading the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, president and CEO David Garth said he’ll be stepping down in July.

Garth, 64, announced his plans to retire to chamber members at a Jan. 22 awards dinner.

Garth came to the chamber at age 26, when it was nearly bankrupt, with a budget of $30,000 and about 250 members. He was the only person to apply for the job. He said the organization at that point wasn’t seen favorably in the community, but rather as an instrument that fomented conflict, and he originally only planned to stay for a year or two.

Nearly 40 years later, the chamber has expanded to a budget of $1.5 million and 1,400 members.

“There’s a lot of personal things I want to do—creative things—that I’ve been putting off for years,” said Garth, an avid photographer and hiker. “I decided I can’t keep putting them off, because any day I might no longer be physically able to do them.”

Garth said the chamber’s board of directors will begin the process of creating a selection committee to search for his replacement. He said candidates will likely be a mixture of locals and people from out of state.

The chamber will be looking to play a larger role in economic development and encouraging the creation of head-of-household jobs, Garth said.

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