Peter Corey was a model soldier.
He served 34 years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army National Guard, deployed to global hotspots, and retired as a Brigadier General in 2015.
Now he has a new mission.
Corey, 58, has been named president of the economic development non-profit, Northern Community Investment Services.
“I think I’m continuing my selfless service to contribute what skills or talents I have to make my community a better place,” he said.
Trading in his military fatigues for a business suit, he will lead NCIC’s efforts to get new businesses up and running in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom and New Hampshire’s North Country.
It’s vital work in the pandemic.
Corey has experience responding to a crisis. He was deployed to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak and served a tour in Kuwait during the Iraq War. He sees similarities to COVID-19.
“The parallel is it’s a unique set of challenges. [The pandemic] is just a different set of challenges, I guess. The goal is to find opportunities within that, to keep people sustained through this, until we get to the other side and things get back to normal,” he said.
NCIC is positioned to help the Northeast Kingdom and North Country emerge from COVID.
The organization offers various services to help new businesses. They assist with grant applications, provide micro-loans, and offer marketing grants.
In addition, NCIC forms partnerships to bring forward large economic development projects. Corey said multiple large projects are in the works, which could bring new industries and high paying jobs to the region.
“It’s making the connections, that’s a big part of what we do. Knitting together multiple sources of funding to make a project work,” Corey said.
A Littleton native, Corey has a longstanding interest in economic development.
He received a master’s degree in economic development from Southern New Hampshire University and helped lead the Whitefield Economic Development Corporation’s successful efforts to lure Presby Plastics, Inc. to the Whitefield Industrial Park in 2002.
When he looked to re-enter the workforce, NCIC was a perfect fit.
“Economic development has always been a passion of mine,” he said.
It stems from his connection to the area.
Corey was born and raised in the North Country. He graduated from Littleton High School in 1980. He and his wife, Margaret, have lived 26 years in Whitefield where they raised three children (daughters Kerstin, 32, and Dana, 29, and son Joe, 27).
Corey noted his three children have left the area. He points to economic development concerns. Specifically a lack of jobs, housing, and amenities catering to young professionals in the North Country.
“Unfortunately none of them are living in the North Country, and a lot of that is the lack of economic opportunity, and the lack of social and cultural activities, and the poor quality of much of our housing stock,” he said. “I would hope that someday this would be a place our youth would want to stay, work and live.”
Corey has made a life of public service.
Following his retirement from the military, he joined the Whitefield Board of Selectmen and Planning Board and the board of directors for non-profit housing agency Affordable Housing, Education and Development (AHEAD).
He maintained such a busy schedule, he figured he might as well go back to work.
Following stints with New England Wire Co. and his brother’s business, J.A. Corey Electric, he was contacted by outgoing NCIC president Jon Freeman, whom he had worked with before.
Freeman suggested that Corey apply.
Corey interviewed on Dec. 22 and began on Dec. 28. He joins a seven-member staff, who he called “really nice people,” and will be assisted by Freeman, who he called “a legend in the North Country.”
“You can drive around the six counties [Caledonia, Essex, Orleans, Vt., Carroll, Coos, Grafton, N.H.] and point to projects [Freeman] was integrally involved in and brought to fruition, that created jobs for hundreds if not thousands of people in the two states,” Corey said.
It gives him an example to follow.
“I hope to someday say I had a part in that,” Corey said. “At the end of the day, the mission is to improve the economic landscape in our two states, the economic health of our citizens. That’s the end goal. That’s the mission.”