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February 05. 2013 10:14PM

DRED director nominee praised as skilled leader, in tune

The person Gov. Maggie Hassan has selected to lead economic development in New Hampshire seems to be interested in labor matters, but not the highly charged issues of right-to-work or minimum wage.

Rather, Jeffrey J. Rose, the chief New Hampshire lobbyist for BAE Systems, is interested in making sure the state's advanced manufacturing sector is strong and has a skilled workforce to keep it running smoothly, according to both labor and business interests.

Rose volunteered on several policy-setting boards at the Business and Industry Association, said association President Jim Roche. He said Rose has the relationship-building qualities needed to succeed in the new job.

"He's smart, he's personable, he's affable. People like him; he will do well," Roche said.

"He represents a new generation of leaders, so to speak," said Ross Gittell, chancellor of the Community College System of New Hampshire. He said Rose appears knowledgeable about many issues and pushed for the research and development tax credit, which benefits the high-technology sector.

Rose, who is 40, is the Democratic governor's first nomination for a commissioner slot. Her nominee worked for Republican congressmen for eight years before landing a job with BAE Systems, a defense contractor that is one of the largest employers in the state.

"While he might not necessarily agree with everything Maggie Hassan stands for, I think he'll be a good soldier," said Mark MacKenzie, president of the 35,000-member New Hampshire ALF-CIO.

MacKenzie said he served on an advisory committee with Rose as part of Hassan's transition. He said Rose seemed committed to getting people trained and educated for the career paths of the future.

Hassan announced Rose's selection Monday and is expected to make the formal nomination today when she meets with the Executive Council. It will be up to the council, whose job is to confirm or reject nominees, whether to call a hearing.

If he is confirmed, Rose will lead the Department of Resources and Economic Development, a state department with a $60 million budget and employee roster of 1,100 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers.

The commissioner is responsible for economic development, international trade, tourism promotion, and state parks and forestland.

Jayne O'Connor, president of White Mountain Attractions, said former DRED Commissioner George Bald recognized the important role tourism plays in the New Hampshire economy.

While she doesn't know Rose, she called around Tuesday to get a feeling for him. He received generally high marks, she said, and O'Connnor was pleased to hear that his resume includes outdoor activities.

"Fly-fisherman, mountain biker; I know he believes in tourism. He's already got what we need," she said.

Rose grew up in Merrimack and lives on Pine Hill Avenue in Goffstown, a corner of the town near St. Anselm College that has a Manchester mailing address. In a brief interview, he said he has one daughter but did not want to discuss what his wife does for a living.

Nor would he say whom he supported for governor last year.

He is listed as the treasurer of the BAE Systems New Hampshire political action committee. In 2010, the organization donated $1,000 to Democratic Gov. John Lynch in cash and an event sponsorship. It also donated money to Republican House and Senate victory committees, as well as individual candidates to the state Senate from both parties.

The PAC was inactive last year.

Individually, Rose has donated money to Republican candidates and causes over the years

He donated $250 to the state Republican Committee in 2011, according to contribution reports accessed through OpenSecrets.org. He contributed $500 to the Republican primary campaign of his boss, Richard Ashooh of BAE for U.S. House in 2010.

And he contributed to two former employers - Jeb Bradley ($250) and John E. Sununu ($600), in 2008.

mhayward@unionleader.com

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