Meet the Asheville Chamber’s Committee of 25

December 8, 2020

Jay Richardson

Years involved in AVL 5×5: Since 2012, so eight years

Why it’s important: The EDC’s Purpose and Values are being about more than just financial success, with its impact on people and place being just as important. As this aligns closely with New Belgium’s Purpose and Values, it allows for a very natural partnership

Austin Walker

Years involved in AVL 5×5: This is my first year being involved with AVL 5×5.

Why it’s important: AVL 5×5 implements a focused economic development strategy with success metrics that have been created by the business community that is focused on good business and good community.

Ben Teague

Years involved in AVL 5×5: Since December 2008…That’s twelve years! 

Why it’s important: I view Economic Development as actively creating a better day for your community. Inherently, economic development is a generational concept that is personally crafted for each place and honed through every stint of leadership. The typical definition of economic development being the physical creation of a building or a new program stops short. Every single thing we enjoy about our communities today started with an idea, collaboration, vision, and teamwork. AVL 5×5 is the epicenter of this ideation and the torchbearer for our vision.

Suzanne DeFerie

Years involved in AVL 5×5: I’ve served as a Chamber Board member since 2008, and as the Chamber Chair from 2015-2016. I also co-chaired the first AVL 5×5 all the way back in 2010, and served on the EDC Board from 2011-2019. 

Why it’s important: AVL 5×5 is vital to the economic growth of our local and regional economy which must continue to be nurtured.  Economic Development “doesn’t just happen” in a vital community without the diligent effort of the Chamber team and the financial support of the entire business community.


Michael Meguiar

Years involved in AVL 5×5: I’ve been involved in AVL 5×5 since approximately 2014.

Why it’s important: AVL 5×5 is critically important to create a prosperous, sustainable and balanced regional economy.  All businesses, organizations and communities must have a strategic plan that gets us from where we are today, to where we aspire to be in a given period.  The AVL 5×5 plan combines our core values with 5 key strategic targets that will guide our actions and determine our outcomes.  This plan clearly supports the mission of building community through business and building a stronger economy for everyone in Buncombe County.  This is why I support AVL 5×5 both financially and volunteering. This community has given us so much, and I believe this is our opportunity to pay it forward.

Dana Stonestreet

Years involved in AVL 5×5: Since the beginning. 

Why it’s important: AVL 5×5 is important to our community because Asheville is a continuously evolving community where young entrepreneurs have come to live and raise families. Because of programs like AVL 5×5 Asheville has been able to better attract these entrepreneurs to grow jobs and develop the business climate by building the infrastructure for them to connect with each other and connect with resources to support their endeavors. The cumulative impact of growing this cluster of knowledge-based entrepreneurs will continue to be significant in the years ahead and the revitalization after the COVID pandemic with more job opportunities to keep and attract young talent and more money going back into our local economy. 

Laura Webb

Years involved in AVL 5×5I have been an investor in AVL 5×5 as long as I can remember.

Why it’s important:  I believe a strong Asheville and Western North Carolina region depends on a healthy business community that provides good paying jobs which in turn makes us a stronger community.

Bob Roberts

Years involved in AVL 5×5/the Chamber:  I’ve been involved with the Chamber since the mid-1990’s, serving as Chair of both the Chamber and the EDC.  

Why it’s important:  Investing in the economic vitality of our region is key to the things we all hold dearly: Quality of life; prosperity; Sustainability;  Improved lives.  

 Lindsey Rhoden

Years involved in AVL 5×5: I have personally been involved with AVL 5×5 for 3 ½ years.   

Why it’s important: AVL 5×5 is important to our community because it leverages the commitment of many businesses towards a common goal – to create jobs. As an architect, I support AVL 5×5 because I love creating spaces and being a part of placemaking for Buncombe County, and that doesn’t happen without the larger picture of economic development.  

Taylor Foss

Years involved in AVL 5×5: I have been part of the EDC since I arrived in Asheville—I believe my first meeting was in early 2012, but it is possible I actually went to a December 2011 meeting!  Anyway, it has been wonderful to be part of the EDC and Chamber and I am so grateful for the experiences I have had with all of you!  As you know, I was Vice-Chair, then Chair of the EDC and a member of the Chamber.

Why it’s important: The reason AVL 5×5 is important to our community is that economic growth is foundational to the health and welfare of our community.  AVL 5×5 funds the resources needed to continue to build on our successes and ensure that we have a thriving, healthy and successful business community in the future.  I am proud to be a small part of this journey and continue to champion its vision and the people who make it all happen!

Mack Pearsall

Years involved in AVL 5×5: Since its inception 

Why it’s importantIt is the most professional,  most qualified entity to present the area in its most competitive light to economic development prospects and get results, which produces a good return on my investment.

Andy Nadeau

Years involved in AVL 5×5: This is Bank of America’s first year being involved with the AVL 5×5.

Why it’s important: The AVL 5×5 delivers for clients, associates, and communities, as we recognize the important opportunity of being the financial institution of choice for those businesses and individuals relocating to the Asheville area. We strive for each associate to reach their full potential, by supporting the AVL 5×5 as it provides better opportunities for Asheville’s limiting number of hires each year that creates a limiting number of openings. Through Bank of America’s position on economic mobility, the AVL 5×5 plan, connects the vision of being the community financial partner of choice by being influential in local economic mobility. By focusing on economic mobility and workforce development, and working with other stakeholders in AVL 5×5 Plan to create more affordable housing, expand childcare, and improve infrastructure to reduce commute times, AVL 5X5 can have a direct and positive impact on community well‑being in Western North Carolina. 

Lou Bissette

Years involved in AVL 5×5/the Chamber: 40 years+ of continuous involvement with the Chamber.

Why it’s important: “AVL 5×5 is an important continuation of our Chambers’s historic proven track record of enhancing quality economic development in our community for the benefit of all of our citizens.”

Janice Brumit

Years involved in AVL 5×5: I have been involved in all of the AVL 5×5 campaigns.

Why it’s important: “ I believe that AVL  5×5 provides us with a strong strategy for comprehensive economic and  community development.” 

Peter Alberice

Years involved in AVL 5×5:  I have been involved with the Chamber since the late 90’s.  I was on the Board of Directors and Chair around 2008.

Why it’s important:  I support the work of AVL 5×5 because of the positive impact the program has had in economic development for our community.  One of the many aspects of the program is that it supports both large and small employers in a diverse manner.