Chesterfield County has always been known as a bedroom community.
As founding partner of the law firm Owen & Owens, Sam Kaufman wanted that profile to be raised. So around a decade ago, he started showing up at Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce meetings. Within a few years he became its youngest chairman.
By the time he left, he'd helped grow the chamber exponentially to a 600-member business organization. He now serves on its government relations committee.
"We were meeting in smaller rooms when I started. It went from that to the chamber having presence, with an annual banquet that draws several hundred people and the governor or a senate candidate speaking," Kaufman says. "We never forgot about the one-man shop, but we started getting more influential companies. ... Now when the chamber shows up, the county listens."
Quick to share credit, Kaufman also serves as chairman of the Chesterfield County Economic Development Advisory Council, a group that benefits from his knowledge of business law. He contributes time to the Chesterfield Bar Association's Pro Bono Protective Order Project and Virginia Bar Association's Model Judiciary Program at Midlothian High School as well.
But one of his most lasting contributions may come as vice chairman of the Chippenham Place Community Development Authority board, where Kaufman is instrumental in approving issuance of bonds for financing the redevelopment of the Cloverleaf Mall area into a mixed-use retail, apartment and office area.
"We have all this westward movement, but you can't flourish unless you reinvigorate the areas that have been run down," Kaufman says, noting that the anchor for the project, the biggest Kroger in the mid-Atlantic region, is built and being painted.