We are excited to share with you as investors and members of our organizations – that our boards both approved a resolution to merge the the Iowa City Area Business Partnership (Business Partnership) and the Iowa City Area Development (ICAD) Group.
This means we will be moving forward with an organizational design plan with our teams and an advisory committee of the joint boards. We anticipate a final vote in May to approve the organizational design and articles of incorporation with the goal that the two entities be formally merged by July 1, 2023.
What will the merged organization look like and be called?
We don’t know yet! We are just beginning the design work after our boards voted to approve the merger in November 2022. Asecond vote will be taken in spring 2023 to approve the new organization design.
We already feel prepared with the research, experience, and vision to begin the design process.
Research: To make this recommendation to our boards, we have done our due diligence in watching industry trends, talking with other chambers and economic development organizations that have merged or aligned, and looking at the Business Partnership and ICAD’s overlapping capabilities.
Experience: Our teams are already closely collaborating on initiatives and events, such as the Talent Tuesday newsletters and Excellence in Action Awards. Plus, we work together in the same space and already consider each other coworkers.
Vision: Launched this summer, the Better Together 2030 All In Vision plan serves as our north star to guide our strategic areas of focus.
We also want to involve our members and investors in the design process to ensure we are meeting your most pressing needs. In the coming months, we plan on using tools such as surveys and focus groups to obtain input.
When would the merger technically happen?
A Merger Advisory Council will be formed in late November. The design work will begin in December and continue into 2023. The goal would be that the two entities be formally merged by July 1, 2023.
Will the Business Partnership’s and ICAD’s current events, programs, and services continue?
We expect our regularly occurring events and programs will remain the same throughout the majority of 2023. Our teams are committed to maintaining, if not enhancing, the level of service you have come to expect as we design our new entity.
Why did you recommend a merger?
Who we serve is overlapping more and more!
It used to be that the Business Partnership served “local business” and ICAD served “interstate commerce.” Now, with the growing prevalence of online shopping and service platforms, the distinction between the two is blurred. Traditional local businesses are now selling out-of-state via online platforms. There is an opportunity to align our services to support businesses from start-up to maturity, regardless of your sales territory.
Our work is overlapping more and more!
Our work is overlapping more than ever with one need across all-sized businesses: WORKFORCE. We have already co-created two workforce-related newsletters and partner on the Innovation in Education Awards. Retaining, growing, and developing our workforce is an all-hands-on-deck challenge and being a merged entity will allow us to focus resources.
We can be more efficient to create the capacity to do more!
Our back-office functions are very similar! We see opportunities for efficiencies both in expenses and within our staff roles. This will give our team the opportunity to focus even more on supporting your business – rather than on administrative tasks! This will also give us capacity to build out new capabilities.
You will get more from just one membership!
Businesses in the Iowa City area will gain easy access to both organizations’ resources, network, and programming through a single membership investment model.
What are the benefits to our members and investors?
Our staff and board of directors believe this merger puts us in the best position to serve YOU and create a thriving business community in the Iowa City area. Merging will ultimately give your business:
- Easy access to both organizations’ resources and network through a single membership investment model.
- One front door for any business support services and inquiries.
- One unified voice for the Iowa City area business community.
- Greater impact on shaping our local economy and addressing our community’s biggest challenges.
Who will lead the merged organization?
This is yet to be determined! Tom Banta will step in as the interim President of ICAD in January. Kim will remain the President of the Business Partnership. As we design the merged organization, a position description for a joint entity CEO role will be created and the boards will determine how that role is filled. We are not assuming that the role will go to either Kim or Tom.
What is Kate’s new role?
Kate stepping down from the President role is her personal decision to focus on her consulting business, supporting the well-being of individuals, organizations, and communities. Her decision was not influenced by the merger.
We are excited that she will still be working with us through Better Together 2030. As of January 9th, she will be moving into her new role as part-time consultant for the Better Together 2030 All In Vision work. She will be assisting with implementation, particularly focusing on expanding partnerships with the community and the University of Iowa.
How do other economic development organizations and Better Together 2030 fit in?
We will continue to align efforts with our peer economic development partners at the Iowa City Downtown District and Think Iowa City particularly in executing on the Better Together 2030 All In Vision plan.
What are the next steps? What will the process look like?
The organizations will now form a Merger Advisory Council, comprised of current board members, to guide the process. Together with the staff, they will complete the following design activities over the next several months:
- identify the new mission, vision, and values of the organization
- identify core functions and organizational structure
- identify team operating norms and framework
- identify processes and procedures
- design a new revenue model and single investment strategy
- create necessary governance and legal documents
- and develop a transition and implementation plan, including a plan for a search for the CEO of the new single entity.
Both boards will again vote to approve the design, plan, and governance structure of the new entity in the spring of 2023.