Chamber, YAPG Merger Approved

A move intended to keep Yankton thriving got the go-ahead Friday.

It was announced that a proposed merger between Yankton Area Progressive Growth (YAPG) and the Yankton Area Chamber of Commerce appeared to have more than the two-thirds majority needed for approval.

The final tally for the Yankton Chamber was 80% in support of the merger, with 35% of the eligible 484 ballots returned. 

The final tally for YAPG was 86% support of the merger, with 57% of the eligible 61 ballots returned.

YAPG CEO Nancy Wenande told the Press & Dakotan she was happy with the turnout from both organizations.

“The fact that we had 35% and 57% (turnout) respectively for the organizations was great,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with people about this. People were calling and emailing, and we were answering questions and trying to get through the information they wanted to know that maybe wasn’t included in the packet or they needed some additional clarification before they placed their vote. People were really engaged in the process.”

She called the merger a boon for Yankton that allows the organizations to better help in the city’s growth and development.

“What this will mean for the community is the opportunity for us within the organization to take a deeper look at the programming we offer, how we can do things collaboratively, maybe a little bit differently, hopefully a little bit better and meet those needs of the business community,” she said. “There was always a perception that the Chamber only helped small businesses and YAPG only helped large businesses, but that was really not a reality. What we’re able to do is hopefully have greater communication between all of the staff in the respective areas of the organization — workforce, tourism, business services and economic development — so we can grow our programs, collaborate a lot of what we’re doing and keep the community engaged with what is happening.”

The merger will become official July 1, at which time the combined entities will move forward as Yankton Thrive, Inc.

“We’re excited to bring that name to the identity of our organization,” Wenande said. “We look at our community as thriving.”

For more on the merger, see Saturday’s Press & Dakotan.

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