By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — Economic development efforts in Derry have been starting and stopping for many years.
That, according to Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau, is a good reason to reach out and get some advice from the outside.
“It’s been a priority for many years,” Budreau said.
He also invited real estate broker Beverly Donovan to get involved in a discussion and invited the Collier’s International agent to share her expertise and knowledge about marketing a town and finding ways to make it grow.
“I asked her, ‘What can Derry be doing to advance its pursuit of economic development?’” Budreau said.
Donovan worked with the town on the recent sale of the former Pinkerton Tavern site on Manchester Road.
Economic development is one of the Town Council’s top goals for 2014.
Through the years Derry tried many things, including hiring a business development coordinator, contracted services with the Arnett Group and George Kassas, who had ideas for business incubators in the downtown.
There were “Moving Derry Forward” efforts, a downtown committee and business owners group, Budreau said. There was also the public/private connection between the town and the Derry Economic Development Corporation.
“None of these recommendations galvanized,” Budreau said. “Derry has started, stopped, started, stopped and started again.”
Donovan said it can be very difficult for a community to wrestle with a high tax rate and find ways to bring in more commercial efforts, while keeping the taxpayer’s wallet in mind.
She said Windham eventually began a Economic Development Commission.
Donovan said that group is now a town-appointed committee that regularly works with the Planning Board to discuss zoning and other regulations. Windham also hired a community development director.
Donovan said good economic planning requires all aspects of the town to be committed to the cause.
She said there is no “silver bullet” to what strategies might work in Derry, but said a town’s focus on economic development must work with schools, businesses and find ways to keep the young people in the community as well.