The Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce may have a new leader within the next few weeks.

Alan S. Layton, chairman of the chamber's board of governors, said after Thursday's 96th annual meeting that the group has received applications from about 40 people who want to be the chamber's next president and chief executive officer."One of our challenges is that we've got a large number of very capable applicants," said Layton, of Layton Construction. "Most all of them could do the job."

The chamber is seeking a replacement for Stanley B. Parrish, who resigned in July after two years as president and CEO, citing "personal and professional difficulties." Mark S. Stromberg, who finished a one-year term as board chairman on June 30, took over as acting chamber president.

Layton said the chamber's search committee and a hired executive search firm, Spencer Stuart, will spend the next few weeks looking over applications, conducting interviews and producing a short list.

The committee will then recommend a new president to the chamber board.

"The process is taking longer than I initially anticipated," Layton said. "But we have 1,700 members who have invested in us . . . and we have to look out for their interests."

He said about 25 of the applicants are from the Salt Lake area and many of the rest work in other chambers nationwide or have Utah roots.

"Salt Lake is really seen as a hot spot, the place to be," Layton said.

During Thursday's meeting, Stromberg was recognized for his service as chamber board chairman and said the organization is moving ahead with more than "business as usual."

"The chamber is in outstanding hands . . . ," he said. "The future is really bright."

Also honored Thursday were other retiring members of the chamber board, including Eugene W. Banks, senior resident vice president of Merrill Lynch; Spencer H. Clawson, president of Stampin' Up!; G. Donald Gale, vice president of Bonneville International; Mary Ann Garner, president of Wild Ones; Robert A. Kimsey, president and chief executive of Sizzling Platter; Don J. Roney, president of Continental Insurance Agency; Robert A. Wheaton, vice president and general manager of Deer Valley Resort; and J. Douglas Whisenant, senior vice president and general manager of Williams.