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5 Questions with Zenagui Brahim, New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership

May 1st, 2015

Manufacturing in New Hampshire’s largest industry and a vital cog turning our economy. We caught up with Zenagui Brahim, president of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, to catch up on what’s happening and how his organization is working to make manufacturing even stronger.

 

Zenagui Brahim ~NHMEP

Zenagui Brahim ~NHMEP

1. When people think of manufacturing, they often think of big factories, but the reality is much different. What does New Hampshire manufacturing look like today?

Thriving. New Hampshire manufacturing has evolved and is becoming a vibrant and growing sector of the economy. It may best be described by what high school students said after they visited neighboring manufacturers during Manufacturing Week in 2013 and 2014.

I learned that in a manufacturing company, there are many jobs and a lot of them seem very interesting.

… that manufacturing is a field where there will always be room for improvement and you can always better yourself as an employee; it is very hi tech and clean.

Manufacturing is a lot more advanced than I once thought.

Manufacturing got its upgrade to the 21st century.”

Today, manufacturing in New Hampshire is more advanced and productive. Manufacturers are more agile as they become more engaged in operational excellence in design, production, delivery and service. NH MEP’s survey last fall shows that 62 percent of respondents from the 88 participating manufacturers (in Manufacturing Week) reported growth of some level during 2013. A number of reports show that our manufacturers will continue to see growth. However, our survey also shows that more than 50 percent said workforce limitations ranks as a significant barrier to growth. The workforce skills’ gap remains a challenge to the manufacturing community across the nation.

Manufacturing here is recognized for its contribution to the state economy. There is now more collaboration between educators, manufacturers and decision makers to address these workforce challenges.

2. You just wrapped up the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? contest, matching up middle schools with local manufacturers for video projects. What are some of the biggest benefits to come out of that challenge?

First, we have made the participating middle-schoolers new stars, for putting together videos that highlight and showcase what is cool about manufacturing. Second, this endeavor has clearly shown that educators and manufacturers can work together and collaborate in the promotion of New Hampshire manufacturing. Third, the team at the NH Division of Economic Development and their partners have learned a lot. Fourth, with these videos, I hope more middle schoolers will have the opportunity to learn about career in advanced manufacturing, get more engaged and learn about STEM, and pursue experiential learning opportunities when they reach high school.

3. Where is the manufacturing industry headed in 2015 and beyond? What are the top trends to watch?

As we move forward, more manufacturers will embrace advanced technologies, automation and digital manufacturing. Small and medium sized manufacturers (SMEs) are asked to participate in design endeavors with their customers. As more OEMs become system integrators, they will be asking their suppliers to be involved in some ways in the design of their products.
Our survey shows that 81 percent of the 88 decisions-makers polled said that new technology and their ability to adapt to change are important to extremely important for them to grow.

I believe we will see industry clusters, such as the aerospace and defense cluster, solidify. Continuous and effective collaboration between educators, manufacturers and policy-makers will certainly pave the way for an advanced manufacturing ecosystem that will help rebrand the industry.

But a significant new trend has evolved during the last few years and that is the growing involvement of New Hampshire manufacturers in building the future skilled workforce in advanced manufacturing. Last fall, 58 manufacturers held open houses during Manufacturing Week, which resulted in 1,100 high school visits to these manufacturers.

To continue to grow, the state’s manufacturers will need to rebrand and build on the strength of the existing and growing industry clusters such as the aerospace and defense, medical device and biotech, electronics and precision machining.

4. How is MEP helping New Hampshire manufacturers to get the skilled workforce needed to help the industry thrive?

Over the last six years, NH MEP has trained over 6,600 manufacturing employees in continuous improvement, quality management, leadership and supply chain management. More information on our programs is available at www.nhmep.org.

NH MEP, in collaboration with the Division of Economic Development; the Department of Education; the Community College System of New Hampshire; New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, and the New Hampshire High Tech Council, and as well as a large number of local economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, and high schools and career and technical education centers and others, has organized New Hampshire Manufacturing Week during the last couple years. The week consists of two days of visits by high school students to local manufacturers; one day of visits to the CTEs and community colleges, culminating with the annual Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit.

NH MEP also helps high schools establish manufacturing advisory boards to develop advanced manufacturing curricula, provide guidance to the faculty and internships and mentoring to students.

I, along with David DeWitt of Phase 65 and Gary Groleau, from New Hampshire Ball Bearing, visit high schools and middle schools to speak about careers in advanced manufacturing.

5. What events or programs are coming up to assist manufacturers with their businesses?

In addition to continuing offering proven programs such as Principles of Lean, Lean Certificate, Six Sigma and our always-popular ISO Collaborative, NH MEP plans to launch an exciting new initiative on Technology-Driven Market Intelligence (TDMI). TDMI is a growth service that provides a systematic and comprehensive approach to technology-focused market intelligence. Specifically, TDMI identifies the benefits and the market impacts related to our clients’ technology-based assets and provide the customized actionable intelligence our clients need.

NH MEP is also scheduling its second Business Growth Collaborative, which is a program of six workshops designed to identify critical strategic and tactical actions clients can take to improve revenue, profitability and position their organizations in the marketplace. The program also includes one year of coaching and advising with the instructor.

What’s New in New Hampshire Tourism?

April 27th, 2015

The ice went out of Lake Winnipesaukee a couple of days ago, temperatures continue to warm up and it’s a good time to catch up on what’s happening with our friends down the hall at the Division of Travel and Tourism Development, the folks who bring you VisitNH.gov.

DTTD Director Vicki Cimino, right, sat down with Carmen Lorentz, director of the Division of Economic Development, on this month’s edition of New Hampshire Business Matters, which can be heard at 3 pm on the third Wednesday of every month at FM 107.7 WTPL.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

 

5 Questions with Cynthia Harrington, Business Development Manager, NH Division of Economic Development

April 24th, 2015

About 7,000 people are employed in bio-medical manufacturing and research here in New Hampshire, and that’s 14 percent higher than the national average in this industry. Projections indicate the number of jobs will grow by 10 percent in the next five years. We’re talking today with Cynthia Harrington, business development manager at the Division of Economic Development about the growing life sciences sector and what makes the Granite State appealing for companies expanding or relocating here.

Cynthia Harrington Business Development Manager NH Division of Economic Development

Cynthia Harrington

1.Why does the life sciences industry continue to grow? What’s contributing to the demand?

These are exciting times when it comes to research, technology and innovation. Health is such an important aspect of our lives and it drives a need to make sure we and our families take care of ourselves. Science is evolving quickly, as researchers strive to find cures for the maladies of the world.

For example, the FDA last year approved 44 drugs, which is an all-time record, and that speaks to the work being done in bio-pharmacy, bio-technology, medical device manufacturing and all the other industries that come under life sciences.

Here in New Hampshire, we are literally in the backyard of Boston/Cambridge, one of the top life science clusters in the nation. It’s home to facilities like Harvard, MIT and Tufts, so there is research and a lot of innovation happening, literally within less than an hour of New Hampshire. We are fortunate to also have Dartmouth College, which has a renowned medical school, and the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon. Both are great assets to the industry. There is groundbreaking research and development happening here that could very well find the cures for which we have been looking.

2. Several life sciences companies have relocated or expanded into New Hampshire, like Lonza, in Portsmouth; Gamma Medica in Salem, and Novo Nordisk in Lebanon. What makes New Hampshire an attractive place for life sciences companies?

New Hampshire’s roots in medicine go back to the founding of Dartmouth College, which has the fourth oldest medical school in the country, and which is a cornerstone for life science industries and startups in the Upper Valley. The Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon is a great asset to the industry.

The other attraction is our geography. Southern New Hampshire is about an hour away from Boston, which has one of the most robust life sciences clusters in the country. We share a talent pool, but the cost of doing business here is much less, as we have no income or sales taxes and real estate costs are lower than Greater Boston.

3. Relocating a business certainly takes some time and effort. Is it any more or less difficult for biomedical companies?

For any business expanding or relocating, there are challenges, such as deciding on where to locate based on factors like logistics, the available talent pool and even lifestyle considerations – where the best schools are for talent pool and families of employees etc. Depending on the type of operation, infrastructure may lend itself to unique needs, in terms of power, water and sewer and the type of building needed. We work closely with businesses, providing customized assistance to find them the right location based on their specific needs.

4. One of the biggest challenges for any business is finding skilled workers, and in specialized fields like the life sciences industry, this is an especially pressing concern. How is New Hampshire addressing this need for the industry?

New Hampshire really prides itself on being in tune with the needs of its companies and in growing industry sectors such as life science. We work very closely with our education partners, which include the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College and the Community College System of New Hampshire, to have programs in place to make sure these companies have a pipeline of talent for today and the future. We are taking steps to make sure the industry continues to grow. For example, New Hampshire companies joined us at the Arab Health trade show earlier this year and we are planning to attend other biotech-related trade shows and events in the future.

5. For a biomedical company considering an expansion or relocation, what are the first steps they should take to start the process?

Reach out to us at the Division of Economic Development. My colleague and I will provide customized assistance to help a company with information gathering for decision making and all aspects of establishing a business in the New Hampshire.

Commissioner Rose: SB 30 and the Redevelopment of The Balsams

April 22nd, 2015

Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner Jeffrey Rose outlines the need for passage of SB 30. – Ed.

Commissioner Rose briefing the Coos County delegation about SB 30 in February.

Commissioner Rose briefing the Coos County delegation about SB 30 in February.

AS MUCH as we look to the future in New Hampshire, we also respect treasures of our past. We take pride in preserving places and traditions that are a part of our state’s identity. The Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch is an example of this. It’s one of the state’s oldest grand hotels; it’s the place where our tradition of hospitality began, and it’s where the nation tunes in at midnight every four years for the results of the first presidential votes cast, for a glimpse into the political future for our country.

The Balsams closed more than three years ago, and today its future is at the crossroad of rebirth or fading into history. For the benefit of the North Country, and the entire state, it needs to be saved. Senate Bill 30, which is before the House Finance Committee, will help move the proposed $143 million redevelopment project forward.

First, SB 30 authorizes Coos County to establish a redevelopment district and, within the specific project footprint, raise funds to pay down the debt service on the project. Redevelopment districts allow access to financing and state guarantees for critical projects.

They have been used by municipalities all over New Hampshire to fund worthy endeavors, such as revitalizing historic downtown districts and business development areas. However, The Balsams is unique because of its location in Dixville Notch, which is an unincorporated place. As the law stands now, unincorporated places cannot access state bond programs because there is no government structure in place capable of backing a bond.

Second, SB 30 authorizes up to $28 million for private bonds to be issued by the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority. Bonds are private capital, which are guaranteed by the BFA. Supporting projects with a defined public benefit is not unique. The BFA has been doing this since 1992, providing guarantees for exceptional public benefit projects that can change our economic landscape; such as the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Bretton Woods ski area and the Mountain View Grand. These bond or loan guarantees were all approved by the governor and Executive Council, as The Balsams’ must be.

This legislation will enable the BFA to evaluate the financial merits of the project through its tried and true process. One of our state’s economic development strengths is the checks and balances of our public business finance offerings. The Legislature creates the framework, the BFA effectively evaluates the risk, and the governor and Executive Council ultimately vote it up or down, but only after a public hearing. It’s a deliberative and measured system that has served our state well for decades.

Reopening The Balsams will play an important role in revitalizing Coos County and will benefit the entire state. Revenues are projected to exceed the annual debt repayment in the first year of reopening. Rooms and meals, real estate and other taxes will pump $8 million into the state’s coffers, and more importantly, more than 1,700 jobs will be created when the project is complete, including nearly 600 jobs in just the first year.

Time has not been kind to The Balsams since it closed in 2011, and it does not wear neglect well. This may well be the last opportunity to save one of the last surviving grand hotels in New Hampshire and drive prosperity into a region that sorely needs it. The passage of SB 30 is vital to saving The Balsams and transforming it into a world-class resort. If it does not pass, there may never be another chance and this landmark, and the opportunities it brings, will be relegated to history.

5 Questions with Matt Cookson, New Hampshire High Tech Council

April 17th, 2015

High technology. It’s not just a business sector in and of itself. It’s a critical element of every successful industry, integrated deeply into the work of companies and the lives of their employees.

New Hampshire has a strong and growing tech pedigree, and to learn more about it, we interviewed Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Tech Council. The council is a member-driven organization with a focus on advancing innovation throughout the Granite State and Cookson himself has been actively engaged in many boards and organizations in New Hampshire in his 25-year career.

Cookson

Matt Cookson ~ NH High Tech Council

You’re in your fifth year as executive director for the New Hampshire High Tech Council. How has the industry evolved since then?

I took over as ED in 2010 and like other sectors it was a challenging time economically. Fast forward to today, and we are seeing solid job and sector growth, great movement in advanced manufacturing, software development, apps, cyber-security and other areas.

I’d say there is much greater recognition that the tech sector is absolutely key when it comes to driving economic development. Serving, supporting, and growing this sector will lead to job creation, enhanced state revenues, and stronger communities. Look at the difference in Manchester, for example, as well as the expansion of incubators across the state, including areas such as Plymouth.

Technically speaking, almost every industry is high-tech in one way or another. How has that affected the NHHTC’s mission and outreach over the years?

It’s true – hospitals are tech, real estate is tech, automotive is tech. It has affected us in terms of workforce development, knowing that tech training is key, be it at the four-year level for computer science, at the two-year level through the partnerships our community colleges have formed with advanced manufacturing companies, such as Safran or Hypertherm, and at the training level as well.

From a membership standpoint, we have always attracted members from the service sector as well, so our outreach has been consistent. Last, from an outreach perspective, we have become much more proactive and while we have a strong membership base in the Route 3 and Route 93 corridors, we plan to do more in the Seacoast in the near future in terms of creating a stronger presence in that tech-heavy region.

Where are the best opportunities in the traditional high-tech space for businesses in New Hampshire- or for those considering a relocation to New Hampshire?

Geographically, we have strong hubs in greater Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth. In a recent report, Nashua led the pack with the highest number of advertised tech jobs in the state. We will continue to see relocations that hug the border because companies like to draw from Massachusetts. We also hear from our members along the highway corridors that having rail in the region is attractive to those in the tech industry.

Quality of life is a huge selling point for companies moving to the Granite State. What are tech companies finding here that they can’t get in Boston, Silicon Valley, or other traditional tech hubs?

There continue to be three primary selling points:

– The quality of life piece with an emphasis on having the mountains, the ocean, and Boston within easy drives

– The fact that employees will likely be better off in New Hampshire than other major tech hubs because they will not be paying an income or sales tax

– The overall cost of living is substantially less than a Silicon Valley-type of environment

What are the NHHTC’s top priorities for improving the state’s high-tech industry over the next one to two years?

Supporting start-up companies through visibility, networking and competitions; reducing taxes and regulations on business to encourage growth and investment; highlighting best practices and innovation to spur new partnerships; and working with the educational sector to provide data on what industries and skill sets are most needed for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.

Five Questions with Michael Tentnowski, Enterprise Center at Plymouth

April 10th, 2015

 

At first glance, it might appear that the southern cities of New Hampshire are the primary hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity in the Granite State. But you’ll find the blood of the start-up culture running through the veins of every county – and it’s catching the attention of entrepreneurs across state lines, too.

To learn more about some of the unique opportunities for start-ups north of Concord, we interviewed Michael Tentnowski, executive director of the Enterprise Center at Plymouth, a business incubator/accelerator connected with Plymouth State University. The ECP supports entrepreneurs, small business owners, and overall economic development in central New Hampshire by providing services including leased space, state-of-the art conferencing facilities, mentoring, professional services, educational resources and networking opportunities.

Prior to joining ECP, Michael consulted with business and industry primarily in the high tech arena.  He has been involved with business development for start-up companies for over twenty years, and has expertise in commercializing defense technologies, promoting renewable energy initiatives, and in entrepreneurial ventures. Michael is also a professor in the College of Business Administration at PSU.

What was the landscape like for entrepreneurs and start-up companies in your area, prior to the opening of the ECP? 

I think that the framework of entrepreneurial activity was present prior to the ECP opening its doors, but now like-minded individuals have a gathering place and a one-stop shop for all types of business assistance.  By offering seminars, workshops, access to professorial expertise, student internships and partner organization like the SBDC and SCORE networks, the ECP filled a void in the knowledge transfer arena.

How is the ECP making an impact in Plymouth and the surrounding communities? 

     We not only impact Plymouth proper, but the entire main service area of Belknap, Carol, Coos and Grafton Counties (and beyond).  We do this by offering business educational opportunities throughout the region, by assisting entrepreneurs from surrounding states (primarily Vermont and Massachusetts) and by promoting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Hampshire.

We have partnered with the other incubator programs in the New Hampshire Business Incubation Network, which provides networking and access to assets at other locations throughout the state.  The direct impact to the Plymouth community is 37 jobs created, $5,625,000 in revenue generated by ECP companies (2014) and 26 internships for students, five of which turned into full time employment for those students.  This helps to keep young people in the State by providing high quality, well-paying jobs.

What kinds of businesses are best served by incubators like the ECP? 

New Hampshire business incubators serve different sectors, whereas some are considered “mixed use.”  The ECP is a mixed-use facility that primarily houses software developers and other Internet services, a material science manufacturer (office space only), iPhone repair service (student-owned) and an array of consultants in high-tech fields.

Rather than what is the best company for an incubator program, I say who is best served by one.  This means: are they coachable, do they need the services offered, and do they have a plan to employ people in the area with business growth potential, following structured business acumen.

What are the goals of the ECP for 2015 and beyond? 

To empower entrepreneurs to succeed during the difficult stages of a start-up, and to assist existing companies in accelerating their growth by mentoring, match-making, and receiving advice from experts in various disciplines.  Ultimately, the ECP’s success is defined by the success of the ventures being spun out of the incubator program.

What events/programs do you have coming up in the near future? 

April 14 – How to Apply for a Business Loan (Littleton)

April 21 – Small Business Legal Series (Plymouth)

May 5 – Planning for Growth; What’s Next (Plymouth)

May 7 – Start and Grow Your Business (Plymouth)

May 12 – Start and Grow Your Business (Littleton)

May 14 – How to Apply for a Business Loan (Laconia)

May 19 – Small Business Legal Series (Plymouth)

 

For more information and to register for these programs, click here.

Uncle Sam Wants Your Products and Services – Yes, *Your* Products and Services

April 8th, 2015

The US government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services and last year, New Hampshire manufacturers and service providers met its needs to the tune of $1.7 billion.

Uncle Sam is a valuable client for any company, but it takes some patience and finesse to land a federal contract.

That’s why the upcoming DOD Northeast Regional Council Matchmaker event May 6-8 in Manchester, Vt., is an opportunity of which New Hampshire businesses should plan to take advantage.

“The government needs just about everything an ordinary business needs, from office furniture to food and clothing to specialized defense systems,” said Dave Pease, program manager for the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program, part of the state’s Division of Economic Development. “The catch is that landing a federal contract, while beneficial to any business, is not easy. The process has to be fair and it has to be transparent.”

Next month’s matchmaker is the second of three being held in the northeast this year; Portland, Maine will be the site of the third one on Aug. 7. Matchmaker events draw scores of prime contractors; for example, BAE Systems, Albany Engineered Composites and Crane and Co., are expected to be among the primes on hand in May, ready to meet with representatives from more than 400 small businesses.

“New Hampshire small businesses are the government contracting champs of northern New England,” Pease said. “The key is having the best of something the government needs, not the size of the business.”

What do New Hampshire companies have that the government wants?

Gentex, in Manchester, produces microphones used in helmet systems for the military. C3I, Inc., of Hampton, specializes in aircraft lighting for US Navy ships. Winchester Precision Tech, of Winchester, works with the Los Alamos National Laboratory to learn more about dark matter. Mission Information Resources in Lancaster designs field notebooks for US Special Forces.

Pease notes that government contracting in New Hampshire is more than high tech and military. The process extends into places like the White Mountain National Forest, where everything from bundled wood for campgrounds to road repairs is needed.

In preparation for the federal matchmaker events, workshops will be held around the state to help businesses prepare for them.

Making the Most of the Matchmaker will be held from 9 – 11:30 am, April 16 at Manchester Community College and from 9:30 am to noon, April 20 at River Valley Community College in Keene.

One of the most important pieces of marketing for selling to the government is a capabilities statement. Capabilities Statement Coaching will be held from 9 to 11:30 am on April 29 at Manchester Community College.

For more information on the matchmaker, and government contracting, visit our website or  call NH PTAP at 271-7581; to register, visit http://www.us-ipe.org

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
NH Division of Economic Development

Northern Borders Regional Commission Grant Applications Available Now

April 6th, 2015

Applications for the 2015 round of grants from the Northern Border Regional Commission are now available, according to Mark Scarano, the alternate federal co-chairman of the Northern Border Regional Commission.  About $4.5 million is available; the maximum grant amount for any applicant is $250,000.

Created by the US Congress in 2008, the NBRC’s mission is to help alleviate economic distress and encourage job creation throughout the northern regions in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

Within New Hampshire, the commission’s grant programs cover Coos, Grafton, Carroll and Sullivan counties. The deadline is 4 pm, June 19. Application information is available here.

Eligible grant projects must develop the transportation, water, sewer, energy and telecommunications infrastructure of the region; assist the region in obtaining job skills and employment related education, as well as entrepreneurship, technology and business development; provide basic health care and other public services for those areas that are severely economically distressed and underdeveloped; promote resource conservation, tourism, recreation, and preservation of open spaces in a manner consistent with economic development goals and to promote the development of renewable and alternative energy sources.

Last year, the commission awarded $968,365 to New Hampshire projects. The Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network (WREN), $161,670; the Town of Littleton, $250,000; the Coos Economic Development Council, $250,000; the Northern Community Investment Corp. (NCIC), $200,000 and the University of New Hampshire Broadband Mapping and Planning Program, $106,695 were recipients of grants in 2014.

Applications from New Hampshire agencies and organizations must be submitted to the state’s Division of Economic Development for processing. The division will also provide technical assistance to prospective grantees and make sure that applications are full and complete. After the ranking is completed, the governors of the four states will certify to the commission their priority projects.

Over the past five years, the NBRC has awarded 50 grants totaling over $9 million. At the completion of these projects, it is estimated that almost 5,000 jobs will be created and/or saved.

For every $1 of NBRC federal funds expended, they will be leveraged with approximately $2 of other public or private funds.

New Hampshire applicants should contact Christopher Way of the NH Division of Economic Development at (603) 271-2591.

5 Questions with DRED Commissioner Jeffrey Rose: Catching Up on the Past Two Years

April 3rd, 2015

Jeffrey Rose marked his second anniversary this week as commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. We ran really fast and caught up with him to talk about these past two years – the successes, the exciting projects moving forward and, of course, the Red Sox.

1. Congratulations on completing your second year as commissioner! What’s been the most surprising aspect about the job for you?

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years. It’s gone by fast, but I guess that means I’m having fun. Actually that has been one of the most rewarding aspects of the position – how interesting every day is for me. I thoroughly enjoy the diversity of the job and love the mission of the agency. I like to joke that DRED is the agency of fun, but it’s true. You take all the best things about our state and put it under one roof. How can you not have fun?

I’ve also been overwhelmed by the commitment and passion of the staff. We have a great team in place, led by four highly engaged directors. Our employees are absolutely dedicated to the state and impress me at each turn. But when you think about it, it makes sense why our team is so passionate, they are dedicated to mission of the agency. You don’t become a park manager unless you love being outside. You don’t become a forest ranger unless you appreciate our natural resources. You don’t become a business specialist if you don’t care for working with business leaders and you don’t become a welcome center attendant unless you enjoy interacting with public.

Commissioner Rose briefing the Coos County delegation last month about The Balsams.

Commissioner Rose briefing the Coos County delegation last month about The Balsams’ development plan.

2. What are two or three projects you’re most proud of seeing completed during this past year?

It’s hard to limit to just a couple, as we’ve celebrated the completion of many projects over the past year. However, a few highlights that come to mind include working with Comcast leadership in its selection of New Hampshire to become home for its new call center. The new Comcast facility in Hudson has already hired hundreds of employees and there will be more jobs created there.

Another highlight is the public – private partnership that led to the amazing new welcoming centers in Hooksett on Interstate 93. It was so rewarding to participate in the dedication ceremony on the new northbound facility last month, particularly to honor the legacy of the late Councilor Burton. He was passionate about the North Country, about the state and about our welcome centers.

I was really proud of our effort to complete the third largest conservation project in state history with the Androscoggin Headwaters. This beautiful area – more than 31,000 acres – will be protected as a working forest for generations to come.

Finally, we’ve accomplished some really exciting stuff over at Cannon Mountain. With the improved snowmaking capacity, our partnership with US Ski Association and Franconia Ski Club and the expansion at Mittersill, the energy is palpable.

3. Which industries in the state do you see as being poised for the greatest level of success or growth in 2015?

Manufacturing continues to be the backbone of the state’s economy and it’s great to see some of the growth at key companies throughout the state, but I’m particularly excited about some of things happening within the bio-medical field in New Hampshire. There are about 265 companies doing work in this industry, refining cutting edge technology with a goal of making our lives better.

Novo Nordisk in Lebanon comes to mind, and its work in treating diabetes; so does Gamma Medica in Salem. This company is making advances in the war against breast cancer with its molecular imaging technology. Biotech start-up Avitide, also in Lebanon, is refining purification technology for improving process of manufacturing protein drugs.

4. What are your biggest priorities for your third year as commissioner?

My top priority is the redevelopment of the historic Balsams Resort in Dixville Notch. This is a transformational opportunity for our North Country and stands to make New Hampshire the ski capital of the East. The $143 million project expects to create over 1,500 jobs in Coos Country and would spur nearly $1 billion of economic activity over the next decade.

This project is not just critical for the North Country – it will bring millions of dollars into the state’s coffers through increased rooms and meals tax, real estate transfer tax and a host of other revenue generators.

I’m also working diligently on my review of the Mount Sunapee Master Development Plan. I anticipate making an announcement on my draft decision of the MDP in the weeks ahead and look forward to continuing the public engagement process.

5. You’re a passionate baseball fan. How do you think the Red Sox will fare this year?

Ah yes, an important question. Much like spring itself, there is always a sense of optimism at the start of the season. I can’t wait for baseball season (and weather) to start. I am confident the Red Sox will be significantly improved over last season. There is some great young talent on the team and much improved offensively; however, I’m a little concerned over the pitching depth. I feel like we’ll be right in the mix for the post season, but either some young talent needs to emerge or a few trades need to bolster the pitching staff to be considered World Series contenders. That being said, I think we can do it. It’s going to be an exciting year.

5 Questions with Tina Kasim: Opening the Door to Exporting NH Goods

March 27th, 2015

On first blush, the idea of exporting products and services to another country can seem daunting, overwhelming, or confusing to businesses that have never done it before. However, New Hampshire has a prolific network of resources to support new and currently exporting businesses with financing, insurance, export controls, market research, logistics, and other specialized aspects of the exporting business.

To get an introduction to the world of exporting opportunities, we interviewed Tina Kasim, international program manager for the Office of International Commerce. Tina has more than 10 years of experience in international economic development programs. She started her career with the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development, before moving to Jordan and later to Washington, DC, where she worked on internationally funded economic development programs in the Middle East-North Africa Region. She then brought this diverse range of expertise back to New Hampshire and the OIC, a part of the Division of Economic Development.

Tina Kasim, NH Office of International Commerce, and Justin Oslowski, US Department of Commerce, at the Paris International Air Show, where five NH businesses exhibited in 2013.

Tina Kasim, NH Office of International Commerce, and Justin Oslowski, US Department of Commerce, at the Paris International Air Show, where five NH businesses exhibited in 2013.

With the assistance of the OIC and the support of STEP Grants, many companies have been able to participate in international business events over the last several years. Can you share some brief success stories from companies that attended those events?

Over the last few years, the State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grant has enabled our program to offer several opportunities to New Hampshire exporters, including access to and attendance at key international trade activities, in order to build a presence in a variety of markets.

Whether funding was put toward a State of New Hampshire pavilion made up of several New Hampshire exporters at a trade show or funding provided via a matching grant dedicated a company’s sales mission to Europe, OIC’s approach to put the STEP grant to use effectively centered on the needs of New Hampshire businesses.

Their successes range from signing distributors and agents in new markets, which allows them to increase sales, to connecting with numerous existing and potential clients in a single arena that allows them to nurture the relationship they have been cultivating for many years. After all, a lot, if not all, business is based on relationships.

Additional successes include the increased make-up of international sales in the revenues of participating businesses, which have resulted in the creation of new jobs in the state.

OIC is one piece of a larger infrastructure that supports businesses in their exporting efforts. Can you share a bit about the other public and private sector organizations all working together to serve New Hampshire’s exporting businesses?

The OIC is one link to a global network supported by the US Department of Commerce/US Commercial Service. Wherever in the world there is a US embassy or consulate, there is a team on hand that works to advocate and promote US businesses in that market.

OIC is also closely connected to SBDC, SBA, Export-Import Bank, and SCORE, all of which help tackle issues related to developing an international marketing plan and finding the financing for your export plans.

OIC also has a key partnership with the Granite State District Export Council (an affiliate of the US Department of Commerce, made up of mostly private sector business people), which offers peer-to- peer counseling to all things related to international business.

The great thing though about all these resources is the fact that there is no wrong door to knock on when you want to get into this line of business. Everything you may need is only a phone call or an email away.

Why, in your opinion, is New Hampshire such a great place for exporters to start or expand their businesses?

New Hampshire companies are run by savvy business owners and teams. They’re aggressive in identifying new markets and opportunities and they have great products and services to export that are innovative and really customized based on client requests. There is also this tight-knit network of resources available to businesses for the vast array of questions or obstacles that might pop up for business owners when developing international markets.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for growth for New Hampshire businesses?

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question; it really does depend on the sector/industry on which a business focuses and which markets are best suited to the product or service.

Trends are pointing to areas in the Middle East for the medical sector, where there is a high demand for solutions, monitoring equipment and delivery of medications related to diabetes. The region is also experiencing the construction of new and big hospitals in various parts of the countries and has a need to monitor patients remotely.

The aviation industry as a whole is and will continue to see the need for components for airplanes, as airliners replace aging fleets with more fuel efficient and lightweight materials. There are also several new airports and airport expansions under construction in various parts of the world, many connected to major world sporting events. These airports and the event organizers and cities need safety and security equipment and tools.

There is a growing interest in East Coast seafood from China and Japan, where the clean and high quality of our seafood is held in very high regard.

There are also demands for water recycling, treatment, conservation, and management, not only in the world’s driest locations but also in areas prone to flooding.

Again, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution or answer for New Hampshire businesses, but we can help narrow things down in order to see what is the best fit and to be successful.

What programs do you have coming up for companies wanting to start or expand their exporting activities?

Keep an eye out for our on going webinar series. We select the topics based on feedback from the businesses, so if there is a particular area you think is a challenge to your business and others in the international realm (i.e., what is an ATA Carnet, Incoterms, etc.), just let us know. In the fall, we’ll have a couple of export compliance trainings available to businesses.

We also have the Export Expansion Fund, available to businesses looking to find and vet in-country partners; run a background check on a potential partner; or conduct a preliminary search of interest for a particular product in a market. This is all done in partnership with the US Department Commerce/US Commercial Service.

If you have any questions about these upcoming and ongoing activities, please contact Tina Kasim at tina.kasim@dred.nh.gov or visit ExportNH.org


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