Staff addition, revamped Friday Flash adds to success

The Forest Grove/Cornelius Chamber of Commerce has grown by 20 percent since Howard Sullivan became executive director May 1, 2013.

In addition, the chamber hired a full-time assistant in March, freeing Sullivan up to spend more time connecting with members and potential members.

The business organization has added 49 new members and lost nine, bringing total membership to 239.

Of those, 19 members are from Cornelius, which merged with Forest Grove’s chamber in March of 2013, and 13 of them joined under Sullivan’s tenure.

“We’re out of the recession,” Sullivan said. “People now have money they want to spend. They see the value of spending $200 to be a member of the chamber.”

For one thing, the chamber recently joined Syndical, a Portland-based event-promotion company, which sends the chamber calendar out to more than 25 websites, including all local television stations, plus some radio and newspaper outlets and calendars such as and

“On average, Howard’s calendar gets between 100 to 300 unique page views a month,” said Jason Mendell, Syndical’s director of sales and strategic relations. Recently, he said, the Forest Grove Farmers Market, the July 4 fireworks event and weekend events at A Blooming Hill Vineyard in Cornelius have been some of the most popular links.

And that’s not counting the page views after it’s handed off to KGW, Fox News or other news organizations, which don’t provide their view counts to Syndical.

Another breakthrough at the chamber occurred when Sullivan asked his assistant, Michele Yurgin, to update the Friday Flash, a weekly newsletter announcing events, new members and other news.

Yurgin, who had previously worked at the chamber through Pacific University’s work-study program, quickly remodeled the newsletter and reformatted it so Sullivan can keep track of user activity.

Of the 430 people who opened the May 30 Flash, for example, 136 of them were newcomers to the newsletter.

He can also see that a new business, brightandcleandental, got the most clicks that week.

But one of the best things about the Friday Flash is that Sullivan no longer has to spend a couple hours a day putting it together each week. With Yurgin taking control, he now has time to meet with chamber members over lunch or recruit new members or sign thank-you letters.

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