Lawmaker split on economic development fund

CONCORD — The 18 members of the Belknap County Convention in the New Hampshire House of Representatives split evenly over a bill to establish an economic development fund at the N.H. Department of Resources and Economic Development, which carried the Senate on a voice vote and the House by a two-to-one margin.

Senate Bill 241 authorizes the Division of Economic Development, led by Carmen Lorentz, former executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council, to accept grants and contributions from both private parties and public institutions to fund its mission of fostering economic growth. The bill was introduced in response to suggestions from members of the business community. There is no expectation of seeking appropriations from the general fund.

All five Democrats — Beth Arsenault and David Huot of Laconia, Lisa DiMarinto of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — and four Republicans — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton and Don Flanders and Frank Tilton of Laconia — voted with the majority in favor of the bill.

Nine of the 13 Republicans — Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Jane Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Charles Fink and Michael Sylvia of Belmont, Bob Greeemore, Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith and Bob Luther of Laconia — voted with the minority against the bill.