By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — After town councilors voted to cut money from its economic development budget, one former official hopes the group won’t forget the mission to help Derry grow.
Joel Olbricht appeared before the Town Council recently and told officials not to stop the charge to help Derry prosper.
That includes making sure economic development remains an important piece of the town’s puzzle.
During this spring’s budget reviews, Derry councilors voted to cut $20,000 from the economic development budget for fiscal year 2014, from $50,000 down to $30,000.
While serving as a councilor, Olbright was instrumental in leading an economic development surge, hosting workshops and the “Moving Derry Forward” initiative three years ago to join together downtown merchants, Chamber of Commerce, residents and town officials to come up with ways to make the town succeed.
Those initiatives have fallen by the wayside, Olbricht said, with the exception of the viable downtown committee and merchants groups that still meet regularly.
Right now, Olbricht said, he would volunteer his time to be part of a new initiative to make sure the momentum can continue where past work left off.
“I think you should hire a part-time economic development (staff person) to get started on working on economic development with the town of Derry,” he said. “You would get good direction and good control, and I would volunteer my time to form a committee to work on this.”
Some new councilors said the town needs a more formal plan for ways to spend money earmarked for economic development.
“There doesn’t seem to be any direction,” Town Councilor Tom Cardon said. “We do the same things over and over, and make the same mistakes over and over again.”
Olbricht said it’s imperative to keep things moving.
“I implore you to get this thing going,” he said. “Set that direction and Derry can come out real well.”