The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce added 133 new members to its roster with its annual fundraising blitz completed Thursday.

President Kirk Mancer said officials were "tremendously pleased" with the drive, which increased the Chamber's membership by more than 10 percent to approximately 1,300 businesses and individuals.

"This puts us as one of the larger chambers in the state, especially for a community of our size," Mancer said Friday.

The new members spanned a broad spectrum of the local economy, he said, and included small businesses and larger companies.

Mancer attributed the blitz's success to the volunteers who spent more than two weeks selling the Chamber to local businesses.

"I think this is a testament to the 16 volunteers who were out there sharing the good word about the benefits of membership," he said.

Blitz chair Laurie Ewing of Wachovia Bank said the Chamber is "truly fortunate to have such committed volunteers."

"This was a tremendous effort by a group of young leaders who worked tremendously well in sharing the positive benefits of Chamber membership," Ewing said in a statement released by the Chamber. "I'm extremely proud to be part of such a dedicated group of future leaders."

The blitz was the first since January 2005, Mancer said, and the move to mid-year was a definite improvement — both businesses and volunteers responded better this time, he said.

Ed Darling, publisher of The Cullman Times and chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, told volunteers at a wrap-up party that their selflessness was key to the organization's success.

"You are living proof that the Chamber is not an 'I' or a 'me' organization," Darling said. "Rather, we are an 'us' and a 'we'-style organization dedicated to making our community an even better place to live and do business."

Mancer echoed those sentiments.

"Membership is open to any business or individual that wants to see the community continue to grow," he said.

For more information, contact the Chamber at 734-0454.

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