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New Tigard chamber president eager to ramp up

He also wants to work on growing the chamber to include up to one-third of the businesses in the city
by: Jonathan House, READY TO SERVE – Ralph Hughes visited the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce office on Main Street for a good cause last week – to donate blood for an American Red Cross blood drive.

TIGARD - Ralph Hughes certainly has his finger on the pulse of Tigard - in addition to his work as a financial advisor for Financial WealthCare, he is juggling volunteer positions as an alternate on the City Center Advisory Commission, as the new president of the Tigard Area Chamber of Commerce, as vice chairman of the Washington County Chambers of Commerce Partnership and vice chairman of the Tigard Transportation Task Force.

Hughes, his wife Paula, and their 22-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, moved to Tigard almost four years ago, and he jumped right into serving his community.

In his role as chamber president, Hughes also wants to work on getting its members more involved too.

'I will be encouraging the board members to participate in the (monthly) lunches and Good Morning Tigards,' said Hughes, 52. 'I try to make most events.

'Our main thrust will be to get more members involved. Everyone should devote more time to the interaction between the chamber, city, county and state. To do that, people need to be involved in their community.'

Carrying that thought process a step farther, Hughes added, 'I think everyone doing business in Tigard should be involved in the chamber. When people ask for a referral, the best thing (chamber) members can do is look up a fellow member on our Web site. People should buy from chamber businesses if possible.

'I would like to see more chamber members involved as committee heads - the more, the better. I've always tried to lead by example. The goal of more board members should be to show up at more than just board meetings and get more involved in the city.'

The Tigard chamber currently has about 400 members, but Hughes would like to see it grow to 800 to 1,000 members.

'There are about 3,000 businesses in Tigard, and we should have 30 percent membership - that's reasonable,' he said. 'It won't happen in a year or two or three, but it can happen. This is a cooperative effort - I'm excited.'

Hughes graduated from Colorado State University-Fort Collins and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and he and his wife have lived in different parts of the country as her work took them from Colorado to Texas, Minnesota and finally Oregon.

Hughes has made a point of being involved in his community wherever he lived, and Tigard is no exception.

'Ralph has the innate ability to do the right thing,' said Jeremy Monlux, chamber executive director. 'He is a great listener, takes everything thrown at him and makes the right decision. He is a very good guy and understands his role (as chamber president).

'He wants to lead the chamber to the next level. He is very dedicated to our chamber.'

And even when Hughes' year as president ends June 30, he won't exactly get a breather. Next year, in addition to his other volunteer roles, he will continue to serve on the chamber board as past president while serving as WCCCP chairman.