The Derry Town Council took a bold step for the community's future with its decision to hire an in-house economic development director. The move will give Derry leaders more direct control over the town's economic destiny.

For the past 15 years, Derry has relied on the private Derry Economic Development Corp. to market the community and attract new businesses. Results have been mixed.

Former Town Administrator Russ Marcoux said before his departure that Derry has been missing the boat, talking a lot about economic development but accomplishing little. Marcoux noted that Derry was the fourth largest community in New Hampshire by population but ranked 19th in job creation.

The DEDC accepted town funds but was not responsive enough to suit some councilors. There were also concerns about a "revolving door" between town leadership and the organization. Last June, Jack Dowd resigned from the Town Council and took a job as the executive director of the DEDC the next day.

The DEDC's decision not to seek town funding this year freed up the money for the new position. The council, led by newly elected Councilor Brent Carney, quickly seized the initiative.

"We have been spinning our wheels in terms of economic development for far too long," Carney said this week. "We needed a new direction, to show we were taking the issue seriously."

Interim Town Administrator John Moody is drawing up a job description for the position. But it will not be filled until a new town administrator is hired.

That's a good decision. It will allow the new town administrator, who will need to work closely with the economic development director, to have some input in the hiring. It will be important that the two be able to work together with a common vision for growth in Derry. The new economic development director should be given clear goals and be expected to meet them.

There are many who long for Derry's small-town days. Sadly, they are gone. It is important now to direct growth in Derry so that it retains as much small-town appeal as possible while providing the jobs and tax base the community needs.

Derry is a easy sell. It has assets that businesses are looking for when they plan to relocate or expand. There are good roads, easy access to major highways, an active regional airport nearby and a willing work force.

The Town Council has finally recognized that all the community needs is the right salesman.

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