When Mayor Richard Finley talks about long-term goals to move the city forward, his experience appears to be leading him to a place of patience and quiet determination.

When Mayor Richard Finley talks about long-term goals to move the city forward, his experience appears to be leading him to a place of patience and quiet determination.

“I have found that the right direction is more important than speed (it takes to get there),” he said.

That mindset could easily describe the road ahead as two of Shawnee's longtime institutions begin the process of becoming one.

With Shawnee Economic Development Foundation (SEDF) and the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce now officially on track to join forces, the path ahead will be slow, but ultimately will allow a more efficient workflow for the entities sharing many of the same goals.

Burg said results of the mid-January vote were overwhelmingly in favor of the merger — at both the chamber and the SEDF.

“... I think we had 84 percent to 85 percent in favor of the merger within both of the organizations voting bases,” he said.

The vote was just the beginning; the real work is now getting started.

Officially there have been no transfer of funds or assets, SEDF Director Tim Burg said, nor have the two organizations officially dissolved, but those things will take place over the next few weeks and months.

“As you can only imagine, when you combine two organizations that each have their own respective programs of work and their own distinctive and individual roles in the community, there are a lot of details that need to be worked out,” Burg said.

He offered his appreciation for the time and effort SEDF and chamber board members are spending to jumpstart the new organization.

“Aside from doing their regular jobs, they have also been burning the midnight oil to work through all of this,” he said.

The process will be lengthy, as countless wrinkles are methodically ironed out.

“There is a LOT to be done, and at the same time we are all trying to stay on course with the daily work that needs to be accomplished,” Burg said.

The two entities — for the time being — will remain business as usual, he said.

“From my perspective, until a CEO/President of the Shawnee Forward is in place, activities of both organizations will continue along the same path as they have been going,” Burg said.

The Chamber staff is attending to the needs of their members, planning out their 2018 program of work and recruiting new members to the organization, he said. “The SEDF has a fiscal calendar the matches the city, so our program of work isn’t differing much from what we submitted to the city or our board this past year,”Burg said.

One thing, however, that is on the short list is the merger's requirement that the SEDF must move their offices to the 231 N. Bell address.

“Staff is working on trying to get that done as soon as possible,” he said.

“(President) Phyllis Bolt and Kaylee Wilburn at the chamber have been great to work with in all of this, and we have already been collaborating on several different areas,” Burg said.

Burg said members of the Shawnee Forward board are getting ready to meet to discuss several things.

Some are:

• Selecting a governance committee to review, draft and suggest the by-laws of the new organization

• Selecting a search committee for the CEO/President of the new Shawnee Forward organization

• Assemble an interim finance committee that will oversee the transfer and merger of assets of both of the organizations

• Set the Shawnee Forward meeting date calendar

Review and work through the transition and administrative duties of the staff of both organizations

This merger has been a team effort from the first time the leaders met, and it will be a team effort from here on out, Burg said.

“If I could sum it up in the simplest of terms,” he said, “We are changing the engine out on a 747 — in flight — at 30,000 feet, and our goal is to get to our destination without crashing.”

But Burg is not worried.

“With the leadership that is in place,” he said. “I certainly like our chances of succeeding in that goal.”

Watch for updates.