Dallas Chamber gets new president

DALLAS -- Running the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce takes a lot more commitment than it did one year ago. Fortunately, outgoing board president Brian Dalton said, commitment is exactly what it has gotten.

The chamber has divided its work into committees to allow more direct participation. A member might work primarily in the Summerfest group, for example, or a holiday committee.

And membership is up 20 percent. The parade in last year's Summerfest -- the chamber's flagship event -- was 10 to 15 percent larger than the year before.

"In general, the chamber is growing stronger all the time," Dalton said.

Former board Vice President Ken Jacroux took over as president at the Jan. 20 chamber forum. So far, he likes what he sees.

He points to new businesses and construction, increasing population and downtown revitalization as positive signs. "Dallas has prospered much more than virtually all towns this size in the state."

Jacroux and his wife Becky own BeckenRidge vineyards and event center. That's where Ken met many local power brokers.

"I started to develop friendships and from there it was easy to roll into the swing of things."

Jacroux wants to develop a theme for Dallas to help draw people in. He thinks the town could serve as a mountain bike Mecca.

"People already come from all over the Willamette Valley and use Dallas as a stopoff point for biking into the Coast Range. If we held an organized mountain bike-a-thon, Dallas would be the focal point."

Incidental businesses like bike and athletic shops would follow, Jacroux said, and local service businesses would flourish.

"What comes to mind is Sisters," he said. "They made an Old West town out of four blocks."

With its unique town square and business-friendly environment, Dallas is ripe for a business boom, Jacroux said. And business is what chambers of commerce do.

"Any chamber's role is to foster local business. We do that with all the incentives -- additional advertising, referrals to walk-in business, referrals to new people coming to the area and holding hands with the City."

After his year as president, Dalton will remain on the chamber's board for a fourth year, as past president. He'll still chair the Summerfest parade committee and the Renaissance Committee, charged with downtown revitalization.

"We've got a great year coming up," Dalton said. "Even in a horrible recession where there's no money, we're building on some strengths we discovered in ourselves this last year."

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