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Chamber gets a shot of iron

Marketing panel seeks to transform city with its new campaign

Every successful project needs a cornerstone, and the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce Marketing Com-mittee has a great one.

It's the new logo adopted as the chamber's symbol, something that will appear on virtually every publication and promotion - the great iron furnace that literally put Lake Oswego on the map more than 100 years ago.

'We wanted to do something that would allude to Lake Oswego and make sense,' said Don New, who designed the logo.

However, with every gain comes some pain. New and the rest of the committee discovered that much of the Lake Oswego community had grown fond of the old flower basket logo over the years. Still, they decided that the change was for the best.

'I've always been a fan of the furnace,' said New, a Lake Oswego resident for 33 years. 'I came to the conclusion that you couldn't come up with a better image on the early commerce here. It's something attractive, memorable and creates discussion. It is very iconic of Lake Oswego.'

The iron furnace also perfectly symbolizes what the committee wants to create in Lake Oswego - strength. Stronger businesses, stronger community, stronger Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce.

'This new marketing plan will finally tell our story,' said John Hanan II, president of the LO chamber. 'It has never been told well before.'

Or as Jerry Wheeler, chamber executive director, said, 'This board and the chamber of commerce has been the best kept secret in Lake Oswego.'

Committee leader Brenda Suteu figured that with all of the talent, she had available she could come up with an absolute Lake Oswego epic.

The ball got rolling last December when the chamber set its goals for the upcoming year - to gain more members and to keep more members. Hanan said he literally 'begged and nagged' Suteu until she decided to head up the project. But she discovered she would need a little help from her friends. So Suteu created her own marketing agency right within the chamber.

'They're all doing it for free!' Suteu said. 'People with hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing experience.'

When Suteu wants something done she can simply collar a very talented person, like for example:

n Melody Saunders, equally proficient at photographing pets (Puccini Pet Portraits) and people. Saunders has already been put to work at the chamber's awards dinner and for the party for the new city manager. 'I'm at Brenda's beck and call,' Saunders said.

n Cheri Mussotto-Conyers, marketing director for Mary's Woods, will be 'really busy with the businesses,' according to Suteu. Her role will be in ad sales and the education committee.

n Ellie Burns-Brookens, owner of European Discovery Specialty Tours, will be coordinating the new chamber Web site, using her background in Web design and Web marketing. The new site will 'have a lot more bells and whistles. We'll be able to do more.'

Filling out the rest of this talented and committed crew are: Sandra Kaufman, chamber membership coordinator; Hanan, owner of Icon Presentations, Inc.; Teresa Barnard, State Farm Insurance; Doug Fish, Fish Marketing; New, News Landing Design; Cindy Brown, copy writer; Kevin Barry, photographer; Mary Lou Webb, dean of SE campus academic programs at Portland Community College; Cindy Laurila, Equity Office; and Jane Larsen, graphic artist.

'At our board's strategic meeting I was blown away by the power of these people,' Suteu said. 'This is the best of what the best has to offer.'

Besides gathering such an able committee, the cChamber has been watching what other chambers are doing and picking what they think will work best in Lake Oswego. Wheeler has attended many chamber seminars in other cities, while Suteu is drawing from her career as a marketing consultant.

One of the fruits of their labors will be a new brochure that presents a 'menu' approach on levels of chamber membership.

The Chamber Marketing Committee is digging in for the long haul. Members will meet each month and present updates on their areas of responsibility: Web site, newsletter, education, ad sales and coming events.

If everything works out as planned, the future of Lake Oswego will be not just iron but gold.

'The citizens and businesses of Lake Oswego will participate in stronger ways that fill the needs of the business community,' Suteu said. 'There will be more participation in chamber events, the tree lighting, open houses, networking, golf tournaments.

'We'll be better able to deliver whatever the community wants.'

'We want to create a chamber of commerce that is unlike any other chamber of commerce in the Portland area,' Hanan said.

For more information about the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, go to the Web site www.lake-oswego.com or call 503-636-3634.