Marc Flattes will never forget his most recent appearance on Derry Community Television. He was appearing as a member of the Economic Development Committee. “In the first part of the show I forgot what committee I was on,” Flattes said.
“Fortunately, it was taped and they edited that out,” he added.
Flattes, also vice-chair of the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC) and an alternate to the Planning Board, doesn’t mind adding one more meeting to his schedule. He and the other Economic Development members are focused on putting the pieces together to bring business and industry together, sometimes using pieces the town already has.
Flattes and Public Works Director Michael Fowler filmed the first show in a series, which is now available on Derry Community Television. Town Council Chair Tom Cardon, who also chairs Economic Development, will tape the second and talk about the committee and its goals.
The committee, authorized last year by the Town Council, is exploring several avenues to bring business to Derry and lower the tax rate. One of its projects is to create an economic development Web site, and Cardon reported that Interim Town Administrator Susan Hickey is addressing this and expects to have it go live at the end of this month.
Committee member Terri Pastori asked at Monday night’s meeting, if Cardon could have Hickey send a preview of the Web site to the committee for review.
The Web site will have a link to a list of developable properties and other commercial real estate, and Pastori expressed concern that the link not be affiliated with one broker and perceived as a conflict of interest or favoritism. Flattes said it would not be affiliated with a particular firm but would be more on the order of Realtor.com.
Cardon said the committee has sent letters to companies touting the benefits of locating in Derry, and has contacted NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration – regarding memorabilia for a possible Alan Shepard commemorative site.
Cardon also has a meeting scheduled with Griffin Morse, headmaster of Pinkerton Academy, and Doug Cullen, career coordinator for the semi-private high school, to discuss mutual issues.
Cardon circulated a draft brochure promoting the town, with three editions: one for business, one for recreational pursuits, and one for history.
Flattes recommended a practice he called the “sink-hole,” printing up sample copies, distributing them on a pilot basis, and collecting feedback.
Much of the discussion centered on the proposed Exit 4A off Interstate 93, with Pastori saying, “Now is our time” and recommending that the town have someone “pushing Derry’s agenda.”
Londonderry will have one, she said. “We have a limited window of time to turn things around,” she said.
The group discussed what it would like to see in an Economic DevelopmentDirector, should such a position be approved by the Council and put into a budget. Committee member and Councilor Richard Tripp, who was absent, did a sample job description based on positions in other towns, including Amesbury, Mass., and Newport. “Two things stuck out in Richard’s work,” Cardon said. “Marketing and applying for grants.”
“We need a clear job description,” Pastori said.
According to Flattes, most of the pieces are already there. “We have the cable station, we have the talent,” he said. “We need an organizer. Someone to be the glue.”
Will there be a committee to support that person? The members agreed that they thought that is necessary.
“A lot of towns who have economic development directors also have committees to support them,” Pastori said. “It’s a big job.”
It would be easy to draw up bylaws, Flattes said, using the EEAC bylaws as a template. “We would only have to change a few words.”
The group agreed to pursue asking the Council to make it a permanent committee.
The next two meetings are Thursdays, Dec. 3 and Jan. 4, at 6 p.m. in the Municipal Center. Planning Director George Sioras is planning a Round Table with several commercial Realtors for Dec. 3, and Cardon will invite Pinkerton representatives for Jan. 4.
Pastori returned to the theme of Exit 4A, noting, “We need a point person. We need all the pieces in place. We need to bring our A game.”