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Bedford's manager to promote economic growth

BEDFORD — Stephen J. Daly, Bedford's new town manager, says he's looking forward to meeting residents and business owners — and bringing his diverse knowledge and experience to promote economic growth.

Daly, who will begin his tenure in Bedford on March 5, was recently hired by the Town Council to replace Jessie Levine, who left Bedford in January to serve as manager of Sullivan County. Daly's annual salary will be $124,000.

"I can bring an entrepreneurial experience that is relatively different from other town managers," he said. "You have to experiment with some things and take risks, and I'm not afraid to take risks. I'll be willing to try things."

For the past 13 years, Daly has worked as a director of regional service delivery programs with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston, which promotes sound management, sustainable land use, the protection of natural resources, affordable transportation, diverse housing, public safety and economic development.

"We have 101 municipalities, 1,400 square miles and a population of about 3 million, but I don't do the planning. My focus was on entrepreneurial endeavors," Daly said.

In addition to having served as town manager of Salem, Daly has local, regional and private-sector experience, and, he said, he can bring a fresh approach to Bedford.

"A lot of the things I've learned I can bring to Bedford to give a different perspective. From what I've read, Bedford does an excellent job with economic development, and I do expect to be duly active there," he said.

It might be worthwhile for Bedford to work with a professional economic development firm that can bring fresh ideas, he said.

"As officials, we don't have ways to talk to economic developers as those in the field would have, so we need to develop that relationship," he said.

Bedford has short videos on its website, but that might not entice developers to invest in Bedford, which still has a lot of undeveloped land on South River Road, he said.

"The nice thing about Bedford is the nonresidential development is distinctly developed separately from its residential areas. I think that is exceptional," Daly said. "They can keep the nonresidential sections away from economic areas and increase economic development without impacting the residential areas so they can develop individually."

He also suggests Bedford work with the International City Managers Association through its networking capabilities and management tools.

"One of the things that has been my desire over the past 18 years is to work with the private sector to envision the future, rather than paint a picture and hope it happens," he said. "Bedford's master plan is clear that the townspeople and business owners were involved, and it sets a path for the future. Most plans are designed by planners who have a vision of what they want a town to be, and it just sits on a shelf somewhere."

Daly, who grew up in Massachusetts and graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in education from the University of Maine, said he's looking forward to returning to New Hampshire. Although he served as town manager in Salem for four years, his career led him back to the Commonwealth. In his youth, Daly was a rock climber and was involved with ski teams and, he said, he has always enjoyed New Hampshire's North Country and lakes. New Hampshire is also a great place for businesses and town governments.

"One of the things I like is the straight-forwardness of the people and the way local government is organized," Daly said. "In other states, it's relatively complicated, but in New Hampshire it's simplified, and the state keeps out of local affairs."

Daly and his wife of 40 years, Leslie, have two daughters, Tyler and Meryn, and a son, Dana. Daly said he is a "pretty good amateur photographer" and he plans to display his work in his Bedford office. While he likes to work behind a camera, he is not shy about being televised during town meetings on BCTV.

"It tells me the governance side is intentionally out there in front of everybody, and it shows transparency," he said.

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