Thanks to the 'Get Connected' membership drive, the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce will now have a more powerful voice for business in this community.

The two-month drive ended on June 30 with 47 new members signing up, and that means a lot of good things, according to the chamber's membership coordinator Sandra Kaufmann.

'We now can have a louder voice because we have more members,' Kaufmann said. 'This was the first step toward creating a lot of awareness.'

Jerry Wheeler, the chamber's executive director, says that 'Get Connected' was crucial to helping the organization meets its four main goals: Promotions, education, partnerships and advocacy.

'This gives us momentum,' Wheeler said.

The 47 new members are of a wide variety.

'They go across the board,' Kaufmann said. 'Real estate, insurance, restaurants, shops, galleries, tanning places, nail shops, title and escrow, downtown retail. Just a real good cross section of small businesses.'

One of the keys to 'Get Connected' was the use of local real estate agents to get the message across, and Wheeler and Kaufmann were quite pleased with how that tactic worked out.

'There's just so many of them, and a lot of them are A-type personalities,' Kaufmann said. 'They have a lot of connections, they're gung ho, they're sales people. They know what this means to the community.'

A little incentive never hurts, and the chamber had it with some excellent prizes. They included trips to resorts, restaurants, golf outings and Portland Trailblazer games, plus advertising from the Lake Oswego Review and legal services.

'Some people got pretty competitive about the prizes,' Kaufmann said. 'It got pretty fun. Others just wanted to help the chamber and the community.'

Besides the Realtors, Kaufmann gave much credit to volunteer chairman Dan Heine, CEO of the Bank of Oswego, and his staff.

'They deserve a lot of credit for taking on the challenge of getting more members,' Kaufmann said.

Meanwhile, Wheeler had high praise for Kaufmann, who is a newcomer to the chamber staff.

'A lot of it was purely Sandra,' Wheeler said. 'She worked, worked, then worked some more. She did lots of legwork.'

The membership drive put the Lake Oswego Chamber well on its way toward meeting its goal of having 200 new members by the end of the year. The chances of that are good, officials indicated.

'There are tons of new businesses coming in Lake Oswego,' Wheeler said.

One reason Wheeler is optimistic is the networking sessions held by the chamber every Friday morning at a different member business.

'People hear how effective this is,' he said.

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