Executive Council Vets Sununu's Pick to Head New Economic Development Department

Jul 14, 2017

Credit NHPR Staff

Governor Sununu's pick to lead a lead a new state department dedicated to economic development had his day before the Executive Council today.

The Governor likes to describe the goal for this new department, which would oversee business development and travel and tourism, as being a "one stop shop" for folks doing business in New Hampshire.

That sounds simple, but it touches areas as diverse as education, housing, and labor policies, all of which can get complicated, as can the business-speak of Sununu's pick to spearhead development efforts, Taylor Caswell.

"There needs to be thought put into the concept of how do we cross the lines inter-departmentally" Caswell said. "Whether that's involving the potential use of ombudsman, or the potential of having some detail across departments, to cross-subsidize, if that's the right word."

OK, he wants to get people working together.

According to Governor Sununu, who convinced lawmakers to create this new department, having the right leader, armed with a ten-year economic development plan (which will now be required), will give state efforts to boost development more reach and greater purchase.

"It’s something especially in a state like New Hampshire, where there is so much advantage to bringing a business to the state," said Sununu. "It need to be highlighted and it needs to have a focal point, where folks can have their questions answered, on financing, on workforce issues on whatever the issues may be."

That all sounds good to longtime watchers of state's business development efforts.

Jim Roche, president of the Business and Industry Association, agrees it's good to keep on eye out for new arrivals, but he says the department will also need to look after the businesses that are already here.

"It’s easier to keep a customer than to go out and get a new one. With that caveat, I think the re-aligned department has an opportunity to be more focused than it has been on business recruitment but I think retention is the most important function."

Right now the first order of business is a matter for the Executive Council to decide, and that is whether to retain Governor Sununu's pick to lead the department of economic affairs. Expect that decision to be formalized at the council's next meeting.