The merger between YMCA branches in the metro-east and greater St. Louis will go into effect this week.
The YMCA of Southwestern Illinois and the YMCA of Greater St. Louis will combine to form the Gateway Region YMCA, effective Tuesday. The move will give 180,000 members in Illinois and Missouri access to 25 branches on both sides of the river.
YMCA of Southwestern Illinois Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Jared Beard has been appointed executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Gateway Region YMCA. Tim Helm, who has served as the president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater St. Louis, will serve in the same capacity of the newly merged organization.
Helm said the merger, which was initially announced in January 2014, is intended to provide more options for bi-state residents, some of whom travel across the river each day to work.
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“The biggest thing is being able to increase access for members,” Helm said. “We recognize people go back and forth to work on one side in the city and live on the other side. From membership standpoint, this allows us to provide better service here with access to 25 locations.”
Helm said the merger should be a seamless transition for current metro-east area members. Employees have been retained and most membership rates will remain unchanged. He said 94 percent of the total members from both sides of the river will see no change in membership fees while others may witness a reduction or increase in costs by $1 or $2 to bring rates in line with each branch.
Helm said the merger is still in the final phases and should be completed by the end of this year. Beginning Tuesday, members from both YMCA organizations will be able to use any of the 25 branches.
The 30,000 members of the metro-east YMCA will have access to 18 Missouri branches located in St. Louis, Webster Groves, Brentwood, Kirkwood, Chesterfield, Wildwood, O’Fallon, Kirkwood, St. Charles, St. Peters, Festus and Washington.
Members of the YMCA of Greater St. Louis has 150,000 members, who will be able to use the seven metro-east branches in Belleville, O’Fallon, Maryville, Red Bud, Columbia and Granite City.
Last month, the YMCA of Southwest Illinois announced a merger with the Tri-City YMCA in Granite City. The 10,000-square-foot branch opened at 451 Niedringhaus Ave. at America’s Central Port off Illinois 3 in November 2004.
The YMCA of Edwardsville remains independent.
Contact reporter Will Buss at email@example.com or 618-239-2526.