A merger of the Belmond Chamber of Commerce and the Belmond Industrial Development Corp. is in the works. Board members from the two groups have been meeting and making plans to form one new organization called the Belmond Growth Alliance.

  This committee has been meeting weekly and has drafted articles of merger. Once each board of directors has voted to move forward, the individual members of the Chamber and BIDCO will be asked to vote on the proposal.

  The committee includes BIDCO Board Members Tate Goeman, Linzie Morris and Eric Simonson, Chamber Board Members Melanie Sopher, Cody Bonstetter and Kevin Stein, and Belmond City Manager Darrell Steven Carlyle.

  “This merger idea has been prompted by the need for emphasis on business recruitment, business retention and the marketing of Belmond,” said Carlyle. “When someone is interested in bringing a business to Belmond, who do they call? The Chamber, the City, BIDCO, the school? We want to maximize our efforts.

  “BIDCO is made up of all volunteers, and the Chamber is mostly volunteers with a very limited labor budget of only about 12 hours per week. We need more emphasis on recruitment, retention and marketing,” Carlyle said.

  The merger proposal calls for the hiring of a new full time staff member. That person would work half time for the Belmond Growth Alliance and half time in administration for the City of Belmond. The person would work out of City Hall. The hiring process is now underway, with a proposed start date of January 1.

  Funding for the new position would come from BGA membership dues, city tax dollars, and a grant from the Richard O. Jacobson Fund for Belmond, which has agreed to provide $25,000 per year for the first three years. The person would be a city employee and be offered city benefits such as health insurance, IPERS and vacation.

  “We are working to include all the businesses in town in the BGA,” said Carlyle. “The annual investment (dues) for each business has yet to be worked out.”

  The initial.... read the entire story in the Belmond Independent.