Bismarck Mandan Development Association President Brian Ritter will be making a move to the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce.

Ritter was unanimously approved as the organization’s new president. He will continue to serve as BMDA president while previously announced restructuring and potential merger discussions continue between the two organizations.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Ritter said, expressing excitement and gratitude for the chance.

Ritter said he chose to apply for the position as the two organizations are in talks so, in the case of a merger, he would have the support of both boards to step in as leader of the joint organization.

Talks began as both organizations' missions were converging on similar issues and as both faced retirements and open staff positions. A decision on whether or not to merge is expected within six months.

In his role as chamber president, Ritter will be responsible for the coordination of organizational activities, including public affairs, strategic planning, economic development, programs, membership and financial management.

In order to maintain balance in heading both organizations, Ritter said the two boards have drafted a set of short-term priorities. He also will rely heavily on both staffs.

What will be new is the approach to creating legislative priorities as Ritter is at the helm of two organizations. He said the idea will be to lobby for Bismarck-Mandan as a whole and not on behalf of either organization.

"We need to make sure we're spending time where the community needs us most," Ritter said.

The chamber's legislative issues committee will talk about issues such as transportation and homelessness and what role the business community should play on those items, Ritter said. He said there will be a focus on building better relationships between the business community and the local delegates who represent Bismarck-Mandan.

Ritter has been with the BMDA for nearly 15 years, taking over following the retirement of the organization’s founding president, Russ Staiger, in 2013.

Ritter has a bachelor’s degree in business communications and a master's degree in business administration from the University of Mary, as well as certification as a certified economic developer from the International Economic Development Council.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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