Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce votes to consider merger with Elevate

RAPID CITY, S.D (KOTA TV) - The Rapid City Area Chamber board set out to vote on the potential merger with Elevate Rapid City on Thursday morning, but they didn't vote yes or no.

Instead, the board unanimously voted to explore the possibilities first and make a final decision at their Jan. 17 meeting.

Over the next month, they will consider what the benefits and pitfalls could be of a merger.

In a letter on the Rapid City Chamber website, President and CEO Linda Rabe said if they merge, the chamber hopes for five things.

1. Retain its name and identity.

2. Have 25 % of representation on the Elevate board of directors.

3. The Chamber Board of Directors would become an advisory board and would administer the programming of the Chamber.

4. All Chamber staff would be offered employment by Elevate.

5. Any documents created between the Chamber of Commerce and Elevate Rapid City would contain an exit clause.

Elevate Rapid City hopes to improve the economy and quality of life for people in Rapid through initiatives such as creating more jobs, expanding Ellsworth Air Force Base and growing Rapid City businesses.

It's a public private partnership in which the City of Rapid City is an investor. Mayor Steve Allender has pledged $2 million from the Vision Fund over the five year period, pending Council approval.

Chair of the board Hugh Boyle says the chamber has only known about this option to merge for about a month and they just need time to decide.

"We will go through that vetting process to make sure everything is covered the best way we can to make this thing work for Rapid City," said Boyle. "Our overall goal is: what is the best thing we can do for Rapid City, South Dakota to make it the best place to work, to play and to live."

Bolye said at the meeting on Wednesday morning, the board did say they hope to "recommend the implementation of a merger or partnership."