Bismarck's two main business organizations are discussing a merger.

The Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and Bismarck-Mandan Development Association executive committees have started meeting regarding a potential merger of the two organizations. The meeting process was initiated two weeks ago when the chamber board gave its approval for the talks to begin, BMDA President Brian Ritter said.

Ritter said members of both organizations have brought up the question of merging in the past, with mentions permeating almost the entire course of Ritter's 14-year career with the BMDA.

What initiated the formal talks at this time was a combination of factors:

  • Both organizations have pursued more common missions, partnering on a number of initiatives, such as Renaissance Zones and infrastructure
  • Businesses that are members of both organizations are seeking potential efficiencies by joining the two together
  • Staff changes at both organizations: Two staff members have left the chamber and there is a a pending retirement at the BMDA.

No decision has been made at this point. Executive committees from both organizations are meeting to answer the question of if and why a merger would benefit Bismarck-Mandan. If that question can be answered, the two organizations would then discuss the mechanics of a merger.

Ritter said there is no timeline or deadline for the talks.

During these discussions, both organizations will continue to operate as is with no disruption to services.

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

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Business Reporter