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Derry council OKs new head of economic development

Union Leader Correspondent

February 07. 2018 11:12PM

DERRY — The Town Council unanimously approved Beverly Donovan as the new economic development coordinator on Tuesday night.

Donovan currently serves as the president and CEO of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce and expects to start the new position in mid-February. The position has previously come with an annual salary of $83,679.

“I’m really looking forward to getting here and rolling my sleeves up in the coming weeks,” she told the council. “I think Derry has a lot of potential, I’ve seen a lot of great things happening over the years.”

Town Administrator David Caron said 13 applications were received for the position, which was vacant for about three months after former coordinator Anne Struthers stepped down in December for personal reasons.

The top five candidates were interviewed last week. Donovan was selected by Caron and a three-member hiring panel.

Although the town administrator is responsible for appointing personnel, the council must confirm any position that reports directly to his office.

“Bev lived in Derry during her formative years, has always lived in southern New Hampshire; currently lives in Salem (and) has an extensive background in commercial real estate,” Caron said.

Councilors warmly welcomed Donovan, who also received a round of applause from the audience.

Struthers was the first economic development director in Derry, hired in March 2017 to attract and retain more businesses. The coordinator’s role is to work with community members and real estate developers to stimulate new economic opportunities for Derry.

During her brief tenure, Struthers crafted a comprehensive economic development strategic plan, which was referenced by all the major candidates, including Donovan.

“I know I have big shoes to fill from everything I’ve heard from your last economic development coordinator, so I’m going to study hard and read through the reports and (I) can’t wait to get going and getting out there and meeting the property owners,” Donovan said.

She is expected to start on Feb. 20.

Donovan, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a degree in community economic development, has served as president of the Greater Haverhill Chamber since October 2016. From July 2014 to September 2016, she worked as the economic development director for the chamber.

She was the founding president of the Windham Endowment for more than a decade and was a member of the Windham Economic Development Committee for seven years. She has previously served as a board member for both the Greater Salem and the Greater Derry/Londonderry chambers of commerce and worked as a licensed Realtor and adviser to Colliers-International and Grubb & Ellis Northern New England, a commercial real estate company.

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