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Brian Ritter is serving as the head of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association. The two groups have agreed to join forces and restructure themselves into a single entity.

Unofficial results show a landslide of support for merger of Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce and Bismarck-Mandan Development Association. The new organization will be known as the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC.

As of Tuesday morning, chamber members had voted 166 in favor and 3 opposed to the proposed merger of the two business organizations. BMDA membership voted 78 in favor and 1 opposed.

BMDA and Chamber President Brian Ritter said ballots mailed in may still be counted if they were postmarked by Monday.

The BMDA has 240 investors and the chamber has about 1,300 members. Of those 240 BMDA investors, about 200 are also chamber members.

“While it appears as though both memberships have overwhelmingly approved of the merger, the process is not yet complete,” Ritter said in an email. “We will now need to file the Articles of Merger with the Secretary of State’s office who will then issue a Certificate of Merger.”

The joint organization would then begin operations on Jan. 1.

The decision to merge was driven by 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: At the time of talks, three staff members were leaving the chamber and there was a retirement at the BMDA.

Until receiving Secretary of State approval, the BMDA and chamber will continue to operate separately. Preparations are being made, including a new logo, new investment structure and joint office space arrangements at the chamber’s current facility.

“I want to say how grateful I am to our members and the community as a whole for the tremendous support they’ve shown us through this whole process. We’re incredibly excited to get to work as the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber EDC,” Ritter said.

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

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Business Reporter