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North Country advocate joins Cate Street Capital

February 06, 2013
PORTSMOUTH — Former Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner George Bald joined the management ranks of Cate Street Capital (CSC) on Friday, Feb. 1.

The venture capital firm invests in new technologies and environmental solutions designed to offer long-term growth to high-worth investors.

CSC's portfolio includes the 75-megawatt Burgess BioPower plant in Berlin, now under construction with an October completion date.

"Bald will focus his efforts on economic development in the North Country, for which he is — and has been — a great advocate," said Cate Street's president-CEO John Hallé in a Saturday telephone interview.

But before then, due to an unexpected turn of events, Bald will serve for up to six months as Interim Executive Director of the troubled nonprofit N. H. Municipal Association, including the Local Government Center (LGC), HealthTrust, and Property-Liability Trust, at the request of its board of directors.

That board is looking for the same qualities that Cate Street values in Bald: leadership; credibility; and a detailed knowledge of the state, Halle explained. "Our willingness to lend Bald to the LGC and N.H. Municipal Association is a 'good faith' display and shows how very invested we are in New Hampshire," he said. "He's such a gem!"

Bald has a great work ethic, and in the coming weeks he'll have time to familiarize himself with Cate Street's current projects and goals, even while devoting the bulk of his energies to being an Interim Executive Director and solving problems, Hallé said. "Cate Street Capital's grown incredibly in the last four years."

Bald will look at the feasibility of developing the EB-5 immigrant program in Berlin, for example, Hallé said.

Many Cos residents have looked with envy at how the EB-5 program has brought some $250 million to Vermont to transform Jay Peak into a growth area. To qualify for the EB-5 program, an investor must give $500,000 to a business in a rural or high-unemployment area that money leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs within two years of a project's completion.

Hallé founded CSC in 2009, after more than 25 years of successful financial development with several entrepreneurial, high-growth financial companies, according to CSC's website. At Cate Street, Hallé is responsible for strategic planning, business assets and overall corporate growth, including staff development and management. He specializes in assessing opportunities and developing new business, as well as maximizing return on corporate investments. Over his career, he has developed a special expertise on investments involving energy, infrastructure and complex financing transactions.

Before joining CSC, Bald served twice as DRED commissioner. He is also the former Executive Director of Pease Development Authority. He was elected Mayor of Somersworth at age 27, and he later served for a decade as the Director of Economic Development and Interim City Manager of the City of Rochester.

When he was DRED commissioner he spent many days North of the Notches and worked hard to convince business community members that attitude was as important — if not more important — than water and sewer when it comes to attracting new companies to come to a region or existing companies to expand.

Born in Biddeford, Me., and raised in Somersworth, Bald grew up in a working-class family where only French was spoken at home. He learned English in the afternoons at Catholic schools. After high school, he joined the Navy and then, like his father, was trained as a machinist. But after he lost out on getting a state job because he had no a college degree, Bald went to school nights and weekends and in 1991 graduated from Granite State College at the age of 40. 

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