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5 Questions with Carmen Lorentz, NH Division of Economic Development

June 25th, 2015

Happy New Year! No, you didn’t miss the ball drop in Times Square – the new fiscal year just started for the state of New Hampshire, so for this edition of 5 Questions, we interviewed Carmen Lorentz, director of the Division of Economic Development.

For those of you who don’t know her, Lorentz has been the division’s director since January 2014. Prior to her appointment, she served as director of the Belknap Economic Development Council and previously analyzed state economic development policies at New York’s Public Management Institute.

Carmen Lorentz

Carmen Lorentz ~ Division of Economic Development

1. What are your priorities for the coming year?

We are working to provide new services to our local partners. One new tool we have is called EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists, Intl), which we can use to help communities and organizations with grant writing, strategic planning and economic impact analysis of projects. For example, right now we are working on an economic impact study with the Concord Lake Sunapee Rail Trail group to show how much new visitor spending and jobs could be generated along the trail if it is built. We also support the New Hampshire High Tech Council by providing it with quarterly data on changes in employment and occupations in all of New Hampshire’s high-tech sectors. There is no fee for this service.

Another tool we hope to unveil in January is a site selection website. It will enable companies looking for a new location for their business to easily identify buildings or sites that meet their needs and to analyze demographic, workforce and industry data in a customized geography around the sites they are interested in – all on their smart phone or tablet. This kind of tool has quickly become the industry standard in economic development. It will expand our marketing reach for out-of-state business attraction and will help local economic development organizations market communities and properties.

2. What are some of the best-kept secrets of the division?

People are often surprised to learn that our work supported the creation and retention of 8,260 jobs in New Hampshire last year. That is based primarily on three things: the 17 companies and 1,200 new jobs that our recruitment team helped bring to the state; the $650 million in federal contracts that 115 of our government contracting team’s clients obtained, and the $4.5 million in global sales that our international commerce team helped 13 companies land. The state invested $2.1 million in us last year, so that’s about $260 per job. Not a bad return on investment if you ask me.

3. Many out-of-state businesses are considering a move or expansion to New Hampshire. What are the most compelling reasons, in your eyes, for choosing the Granite State over the competition?

Many companies that choose New Hampshire are drawn here because we offer a low tax environment and an exceptional quality of life – low crime, low poverty, low unemployment and highly educated and healthy people. When companies work with us here at the division, they also see how easy it is to get things done in our small and very connected state. Since time is money, that can make a big difference and we get a lot of positive feedback on how responsive and business-friendly our state is compared to other places.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing New Hampshire businesses today and how is the division working to help businesses overcome these challenges?

Workforce. That is the number 1 thing we hear about from the companies with which we work. Many companies could grow faster if they could find people with the right skills. A generation ago, New Hampshire’s economic growth was bolstered by the fact that we attracted a lot of new, very highly educated people to our state. In-migration has slowed considerably, so if we are going to grow our economy, we have to do a better job of making sure that New Hampshire residents understand where the opportunities are and have clear and affordable pathways to good careers.

Here at the division, we are developing a more systematic approach to create partnerships that respond to workforce needs. We had a recent success where Cindy Harrington, one of our business development managers, was working with GE Aviation on it expansion in Hooksett. Officials there expressed a need for people with skills in tube fabrication and formation. Cindy brainstormed with others on our team and identified companies around the state with similar training needs, including Scotia Technology, Titeflex Aerospace, Axenics and ContiTech Thermopol. She convened those companies with the Community College System of New Hampshire and together they created a 10-week certificate program in tube fabrication and formation, which will be offered by Manchester Community College starting this fall. This program will enable people who are not from a manufacturing background to acquire the skills needed for potential employment opportunities at these five companies and others.

We are also working to create a framework based on this example for our staff and partners to use in responding to a company that expresses a need for workers with specialized skills, so that we can ensure the right resources are brought to the table to address the need.

5. The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contest was very successful! Any plans to do it again?

Yes! We will launch the 2016 contest in September. Any middle school teachers who are interested should contact Lorna Colquhoun at lorna.colquhoun@dred.nh.gov or 271-2341 to get on the distribution list for the contest materials. You can see the videos from the 2015 contest on our YouTube channel.

Office of International Commerce Update: Opportunities Abound Abroad

June 24th, 2015

Carmen Lorentz, left, and Tina Kasim ~ NH Economy

More and more New Hampshire companies are exporting, which helps them find new customers and markets and diversify their sales.

The New Hampshire Office of International Commerce works with those companies every day and seeks out new global markets.

This month’s New Hampshire Business Matters radio show (every third Wednesday of the month on WTPL 107.7 FM ), Division of Economic Development Director Carmen Lorentz and Office of International Trade program manager Tina Kasim discuss the upcoming opportunities, including the trade mission to Colombia; the Dubai Air Show and Arab Health.

Tune in! For more information, visit ExportNH.org.

 

 

Summer of 2015: 15.9 Million Visitors Expected to Spend $2 Billion in New Hampshire

June 22nd, 2015
BathBridge

Bath Covered Bridge

New Hampshire’s summer season is expected to set records, as state tourism officials anticipate an increase in visitors and visitor spending.

According to the Institute for New Hampshire Studies report, more than 15.9 million people will visit from out-of-state during the summer season, 3 percent more than last summer, who may spend about $2.07 billion, up 3 percent from a year ago.

June, July and August see the largest number of people visiting the state of any three-month travel season, accounting for more than 40 percent of all visitors and visitor spending on an annual basis.

Most visitors to New Hampshire this summer will be from New England, the Middle Atlantic States, and eastern Canada. The number of people visiting from Europe is expected to increase by about 3 percent over summer 2014, with United Kingdom, French and German travel to New Hampshire expected to improve.

VisitNH.gov has a new look for summer. The Vacation Inspiration website has tips and suggestions on how to get the most out of summer. Some of the highlights include unique garden tours, unexpected concert venues, kid-friendly hikes, top amusements and natural attractions and much more. Stay connected with New Hampshire tourism on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube and be sure to follow the #livefreenh hashtag to see what other people are saying about summer in New Hampshire.

5 Questions with Amanda Duquette, NH PTAP

June 19th, 2015

We’ve covered some of the higher-level facets of federal government contracting in previous “5 Questions” interview pieces, and this time, we decided to dig a little deeper into the space – looking at state and local opportunities, and what it’s like for a company to actually work with a procurement service.

To guide us in this area, we interviewed Amanda Duquette, procurement specialist with the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program (NH-PTAP). Her day-to-day work includes one-on-one counseling with New Hampshire businesses selling their products or services, either directly to the local, state, and federal government or indirectly through subcontracting, as well as performing marketing research and creating strategic plans for companies to get the training and technical assistance they need to come up to speed for government contracting opportunities.

1. You’ve been with PTAP since 2007 and have worked with many, many businesses. How vital would you say PTAP’s services are to the overall success of those companies?

Amanda Duquette

Amanda Duquette

Most of the clients that we help come to us because they aren’t sure how to best pursue government contracts.  There are many registrations and processes that need to be completed before a company can be awarded a government contract.  We help companies navigate through the red tape and we basically walk them through the entire process.  There are many rules and regulations that go along with contracting with the government – and they are constantly changing. I think PTAP’s services are vital to companies who want to successfully work for the government.

2. What kinds of assistance are requested most often by New Hampshire businesses?

Many of our clients are new to the government contracting arena.  They are looking for assistance with government registrations and how to find government contracts that are a good fit for their company.  They want us to teach them how to set their business up to work for the government and then how to find and pursue government work.

3. Much of the PTAP talk is about federal contracts, but you help with state and local contracts, too. Can you give us a sense of the variety of products and services needed at state and local levels?

There is a vast variety of products and services that are needed at the state and local level.  There is usually a need for janitorial services, landscaping/snow plowing, construction/renovation work and automotive equipment. We also see needs for medical and professional services, laboratory equipment and hardware. Our Bidmatch service helps our clients get easy access to bidding opportunities that are found on the state and individual city and town websites, or published in the newspapers.

4. What kind of market research will you perform for clients interested in exploring contracting opportunities?

PTAP counselors do a lot of market research for our clients.  We often have clients who want to know if the government is buying their products or services. We take our clients on virtual tours to show them what agencies are buying their products or services. We can show them who their competitors are and what they are selling to the government and we can also show them competitor’s prices and sales amounts. We also teach our clients how to search for government contracts. If our client isn’t ready for direct government contracts, we show them how to find subcontracting opportunities.

5. Sometimes your clients aren’t quite qualified or otherwise capable of contracting with the government. What does PTAP do to help train or otherwise help these companies get to the point of being a suitable contractor?

You are right, not every company that comes to us is ready for government contracting. When we first speak with a new client, we assess his/her company – taking into consideration, its products/services, time in business, past performance and commercial market. We often recommend that companies that are not ready for direct government work reach out to prime contractors, to become a subcontractor for a piece of the project or work.  This helps them get their feet wet with government work and helps them understand what it takes to complete a government contract.  Also, when a company is a new start-up or not ready for our services, we usually refer them to our partners at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and/or SCORE.

Aerospace: New Hampshire H-O-T Commodity

June 15th, 2015

The first-ever New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Conference was held June 10 and if success is measured in enthusiasm and momentum, then we can safely say it reached new heights at this event.

More than 225 people attended and 31 vendors were featured at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center. Building the Supply Chain for New Hampshire’s Aerospace and Defense Export Markets was the theme of what will become an annual event, organized by the New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium; the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, with sponsorship by BAE Systems.

 

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Paul Kling, deputy vice president of operations and supplier partnerships for BAE, was the keynote speaker and two panel discussions covered topics relating to export strategies.

Why is this kind of gathering important? Aerospace and defense are two fast growing sectors in our state, which is home to about 350 companies involved in these industries. More than 7,000 people are employed and the average salary hovers around $97,000.

In short, aero/defense is important to our economy and whenever we can bring people from the industry to talk, exchange ideas and share enthusiasm, it’s a good day.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

5 Questions with SNHU President Paul LeBlanc

June 12th, 2015

Since 1988, the New Hampshire High Technology Council has given an annual “Entrepreneur of the Year” (EOY) award, honoring New Hampshire entrepreneurs for demonstrating leadership, ingenuity and innovation in the technology sector. Last month, the NHHTC named Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) as one of its 2015 winners, for “utilizing technology in truly unique, powerful and very different ways,” said Matt Benson, chair of the NHHTC’s EOY committee.

SNHU President Paul LeBlanc

To learn more about how SNHU earned this award, we interviewed Paul LeBlanc, president of SNHU. LeBlanc has held the post since 2003, and is no stranger to winning awards. In 2012, SNHU was the only academic institution on Fast Company magazine’s World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list. LeBlanc has also won a New England Higher Education Excellence Award, was named one of New Hampshire’s Most Influential People by New Hampshire Business Review, and named one of 15 Classroom Revolutionaries by Forbes Magazine.

Congratulations on receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year Award! It seems unusual at first blush to think of an 83-year-old university with 60,000 students as ‘entrepreneurial.’ How do you believe SNHU embodies the entrepreneurial spirit?

Thank you! It really was an honor. Fundamentally, I think we are always asking ourselves “Is there a better way to serve our students? To reach more students who need a degree?” and never being self-satisfied. That translates into a set of behaviors: a willingness to try new things, take risks, and make mistakes. Those behaviors then get shaped into a game plan, very much informed by innovation guru Clay Christensen. Clay was a trustee and is now Trustee Emeritus, and his research and writing on disruption have been very influential for us as a university.

People often assume that size means less willingness to innovate and be entrepreneurial, but it doesn’t have to. Especially when you’re willing to create new, small and agile teams, and then give them the running room to try things, break some rules, and invent.

Why, in your opinion, is being entrepreneurial an important quality for educational institutions?

Higher education is in a kind of perfect storm: a combination of massive state disinvestment in public higher education, demographic downturn, worries over high prices and excessive student debt, and new delivery models. The old answers of turning to alumni donors, requests for more state funding, building a new stadium, and living off grants won’t suffice. Higher education is similar to the health care industry, highly regulated with a lot of third-party dollars (namely, $153 billion of federal financial aid), so change will come more slowly. But change is happening and it’s pretty dramatic.

SNHU is now particularly known as an innovator in its field, but that wasn’t always the case. What had to change inside the institution for it to become more innovative?

Honestly, I think we’ve long been innovative. We did satellite continuing education centers decades ago and before they were common. We were early into online education. We were doing competency-based degrees and three-year degrees some 16 years ago. Traditional higher education has always tended to look down its nose at that sort of innovation, so I think we were not recognized for it. Now, higher education is catching up with those innovations – in some large measure because it is forced to find new ways to operate – and we look more innovative. I don’t think we are; I think higher education is finally getting more innovative and embracing things we have been doing for a long time.

Innovation is in our DNA given that history, and we continue that tradition today. I think if you were to ask the higher education press to name the three or four most innovative universities in the country, SNHU would be on everyone’s list.

How is SNHU working to support the broader business community in New Hampshire? Put another way, what impact do you strive to have on the economic growth of the state?

Well, there is the obvious connection, with our rapid growth; we have hired roughly 4,500 full and part time staff in five years. We moved our online operation to the mill yards of Manchester six years ago and had 22 people there. Today we have 1,200. We have a new facility at 1230 Elm St., and have put another 250 people there and will add more. That’s a huge boon to the downtown merchants. Then there’s the building program we have had underway, going from 10,000 square feet of space downtown to over 220,000 square feet. That’s meant build outs, furnishings, HVAC, and more — all work for largely local subcontractors and suppliers. On the main campus, during that same period, we’ve built over $120 million of new facilities – again, a lot of work for local contractors and others. Only Dartmouth College has more international students than we do and an annual independent study indicates that our 1,000 international students have about a $32 million economic impact on the area.

Then you think about the way we supply talent into the local labor market, a critical need for the business community, and the impact of the university is just enormous. Our IT, Finance, Marketing, Math, Hospitality, Communications, and many other majors graduate and become part of the larger talent pool the state so desperately needs. Our online programs, catering mostly to adults, are the second largest in the country and by far the largest in the region. We have thousands of adults with some to no college credits coming back, completing degrees, and retooling for the labor market.

Can you give us a hint about what new trails SNHU will soon be blazing in the academic world?

Well, we just created a new software company, Motivis Learning, and based it in Salem. We have high hopes for that company (it’s our one for-profit subsidiary), and institutions from around the country are adopting its next generation learning platform. We just announced that Anthem has rolled out our competency-based degree program, College for America, to all 55,000 of its employees – expect more such partnerships in the future. We’re doing some really exciting partnerships with other providers too. For example, we have a new Music Industry MBA in partnership with the Berklee School of Music. We are in discussions with others for similar kinds of offerings. We just received a $3.9 million First in the World federal grant to pioneer new remedial education approaches. It’s such an exciting time in higher education, for all its challenges and its uncertain future. But as Steve Jobs said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

 

 

5 Questions with Karen Wyman, Granite State District Export Council

May 29th, 2015

One of the most difficult challenges an expanding business can face is how to bring its products and services to other countries. Language barriers are just the beginning – regulations (domestic and international) must be minded, marketing strategies must be adjusted, contacts must be made, and oftentimes additional funding is required to get a company’s exporting activity off the ground.

To find out more about the resources available to New Hampshire businesses in navigating this landscape, we interviewed Karen Wyman, trade compliance manager at Elbit Systems of America in Merrimack. Ms. Wyman is also the chairman of the Granite State District Export Council, a private, non-profit organization whose members are appointed to four-year terms by the US Secretary of Commerce. DECs connect experienced international business people for mentoring and advising other businesses on their entry or expansion into international markets.

1. The official mission of the Granite State DEC is “to encourage and support exports that strengthen local business, stimulate economic growth and create jobs.” What does that look like on a day-to-day basis?

On a daily basis, the DEC members are called upon to assist other New Hampshire exporters with specific questions or issues they face. DEC members are vetted and approved by the US Department of Commerce to ensure they meet the requirements of DEC membership, such as being able to be of benefit to the local exporting community in a productive and ethical way.

Other activities include the management and running of various grant programs that we have co-funded with other exporting agencies and groups within New Hampshire.

We also participate in the many international trade events hosted around the state and coordinate provision of services with our many partners, in New Hampshire and around the world, especially the New Hampshire Export Assistance Center, New Hampshire Office of International Commerce, New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium and Small Business Development Centers.

We often act as a multiplier for our partners, promoting their events, supporting their activities financially and administratively, etc.

2. Can you share a couple of examples of how the DEC assisted individual businesses recently?

– One DEC member has assisted a New Hampshire exporter needing information on how to export to India and the “ins” and “outs” of having a local representative there;

– Another DEC member has assisted several New Hampshire exporters with specific and general questions regarding export compliance (the regulations overseeing exports of items of national security sensitivity);

– One DEC member recently assisted a New Hampshire exporter with an issue related to the use of a carnet in Italy. A carnet, also known as a merchandise passport, can simplify customs procedures for temporary imports into a country. – Ed.

3. What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges businesses face today when trying to export their products and services?

– Lack of knowledge of how to penetrate a specific foreign market. Each country has different sets of regulations, norms, and cultural expectations, all of which impact how a product or service is sold in that country. To varying degrees an exporter needs to modify its export strategy for each target country. It’s hard to know all the information you need to be successful in that market. Through the DEC and its many partners, we can help an exporter find those elements needed for its success.

– Complex export regulations. New Hampshire is strong in high technology products and services, whether it’s for the medical, IT, aerospace or defense sectors. Due to the high level of technology involved, the US has regulations to ensure that those technologies do not fall into enemy hands. The various sets of regulations are complex, confusing, and in many cases, overreaching in their control. The DEC, along with our partners and the Congressional Delegation, have been advocating for the alignment and revision of these regulations to meet both the needs of national security and the exporter.

– The need for funding export expansions. Many companies need assistance with capital needed to expand due to an international contract, project, etc., but banks are often skittish about helping. A number of sources for help exist for New Hampshire exporters:

* Export Import Bank – This bank has been a vital resource for a number of exporters as they need capital to fund their international endeavors. It’s a US government agency, which receives no funding from taxes, with the sole purpose of helping US exporters!

* NH Export Expansion Fund – a micro grant system funded in part by the DEC to get a small international project off the ground.

* SBA financial programs – SBA has several programs to assist small exporters.

4. How did you, personally, come to the DEC, and what inspires you to do this work on behalf of NH’s exporters?

I used to work at the state’s International Trade Resource Center  when the DEC was reinitiated. I was asked to be a member so I could provide my knowledge in a capacity that was needed by our exporters.

I love helping companies expand their markets internationally. I’ve traveled around the world and have seen and experienced the complexities that exist. It’s very satisfying to help an exporter succeed in a market.

The help I provide ultimately helps the overall state economy. New Hampshire has a very strong mix of beautiful nature, great education and advanced business. I live here, I want to keep it thriving for all of us to enjoy.

5. What events does the DEC have coming up for businesses interested in learning about or ramping up their exporting activities?

Upcoming events are:

NHADEC annual conference, 4- 8 pm, Wednesday, June 10;

– Healthcare Executive Service to India, Monday, July 27 -Saturday, Aug. 01;

– State of New Hampshire Trade Mission to Colombia, Oct. 19-21.

More information for these events and a listing of all of our events, and those we promote, can be found on our website.

5 Questions with Mark Brewer, MHT Airport Director

May 21st, 2015

Transportation and logistics are often at the forefront of business location and expansion decisions – particularly for businesses that need to efficiently move people and products around the country or around the world. Having a first-class airport just a short drive away certainly makes a strong case for choosing the Granite State.

New Hampshire’s biggest airport facility, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT), certainly fits that bill. For this week’s interview, we went behind the scenes with Mark Paul Brewer, A.A.E., Airport Director for MHT. In addition to over 30 years of airport management experience, Brewer has served as chairman and held multiple positions within the American Association of Airport Executives. He’s also served on the Transportation Security Administration’s Security Technology Deployment Office and was an industry representative on the TSA’s Airside Security Task Force.

Mark Brewer

Mark Brewer

1. MHT was recently named the “Most Reliable Station” out of 93 cities served by Southwest Airlines, a company with an already stellar customer service reputation. What’s the secret of MHT’s success, for Southwest or any of the other passenger airlines?

There are several important factors that contributed to this impressive achievement.

First, and most importantly, Southwest has terrific local leadership in New Hampshire. Station Manager Tom Labrie and his staff do a great job with on-time performance and work hard to minimize customer inconvenience due to mishandled checked baggage.

Second, our highly-skilled airport operations/maintenance personnel maintain the airport and airfield so the airlines can operate safely and efficiently.

Finally, the airport works closely in partnership with all the airport tenants to ensure that our customers have a positive experience when traveling through MHT.

 2. How has MHT evolved to better serve business travelers over the last year or two?

Frequent-flying business travelers are very important to MHT. For that reason, the airport has focused a lot of energy during the past few years trying to improve services and make air travel through MHT even more convenient.

The airport continues to work with its airlines, both current and prospective, to enhance air service by adding new nonstop destinations, increasing frequency to popular destinations, and upgrading aircraft. Recently, Delta Air Lines converted its 50-seat regional jets serving Detroit to larger regional jets (76 seats) with a first-class cabin. Delta also added a fourth daily jet to New York-LaGuardia for the summer schedule.

American Airlines has increased its investment at MHT, extending the deployment of its second daily Charlotte nonstop flight in 2015.

United has added a fourth daily roundtrip to Newark and upgraded its turboprop service to regional jets.

The TSA implemented its pre-check program at MHT, which allows eligible travelers expedited screening and the ability to keep footwear on and laptops in bags.

The airport is launching a new initiative called FastPass. This customer-focused program is designed to make parking at the airport even easier, and add value to the parking experience. Participants will receive a special proximity card that allows easy in/easy out of the garage and surface parking lots. Parking charges will go directly onto a debit or credit card on file and receipts will be emailed to the customer. FastPass also allows parkers to earn points for each visit that can be redeemed for future parking at the airport.

3. One of MHT’s missions is to develop, promote, and manage the airport to stimulate economic growth. What role would you say MHT plays in attracting out-of-state businesses to expand or relocate to New Hampshire?

Airports are important economic engines for the regions they serve, creating jobs, facilitating commerce and providing access to the global marketplace. MHT contributes approximately $1 billion each year to the New Hampshire economy.

One of the first questions many prospective companies ask when exploring opportunities to relocate or expand their business in New Hampshire is about the airport. They want to make sure they can conveniently move their employees and products around the country and the world. We work closely with the Department of Resources and Economic Development and various local and regional economic development organizations to help companies better understand the benefits of investing and growing their business in New Hampshire.

4. Passenger service gets a lot of attention, but your cargo operation is thriving, too. How will Londonderry’s expanded FedEx facility and new UPS facility affect your operations?
Air cargo is a critical component of any regional transportation system, and a good indicator of the overall strength of the local economy. MHT is the third largest cargo airport in New England, processing more cargo in 2014 (160 million pounds) than Providence, RI; Portland, Maine; Portsmouth; Bangor, Maine; and Burlington, Vt. combined.

Both FedEx and UPS already have a significant presence on the cargo ramp at MHT. The completion of the FedEx Ground Distribution Facility and the UPS-Pratt Whitney Northeast Logistics Center just south of the airport in Londonderry will certainly add to the cargo handling capabilities in New Hampshire. The airport is excited to be a part of the ongoing development along Pettengill Road.

5. What other exciting developments or milestones are on the horizon for MHT?

One of the most frequently asked questions the airport receives is, “When’s jetBlue coming to New Hampshire?” I assure you, the airport is working closely with jetBlue and other airlines to highlight all opportunities for profitable new service additions at MHT.

The airport will begin construction of a consolidated rental car facility in June. This new facility will be located in Parking Lot A and will be incorporated into the airport’s parking garage. Combining the operations of Hertz, Avis, Dollar, National/Alamo, Enterprise, and Thrifty in one convenient location creates efficiencies for the rental car companies and greatly enhances customer service for our passengers. The new rental car facility is scheduled to open in February 2016.

Seabrook Welcomes US Foods

May 20th, 2015
USFoods

Gov. Maggie Hassan joins dignitaries Tuesday for the ribbon cutting at US Foods in Seabrook.

Seabrook celebrated its new neighbor on Tuesday with the opening of US Foods’ newest distribution center.

“The new efficient and modern facility allows us to better serve our approximately 3,000 customers throughout the New England area and provides the nearly 300 employees in the location with an optimal working environment,” said John Glynn, president, Boston Division, US Foods. “We are thrilled to join the Seabrook business community and continue to bring our innovative products and business solutions to chefs, restaurant owners and food service operators throughout the area.”

The new 500,000 square-foot facility is LEED certified and includes a number of green enhancements, such as energy efficient lighting and a cascade refrigeration system that uses CO2 as a refrigeration fluid in place of ammonia, reducing environmental impact and increasing energy efficiency. A dedicated fleet fueling and maintenance area will further help the company operate even more efficiently.

(BUSINESS WIRE)

5 Questions with Martha Keene, New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program

May 15th, 2015

Earlier this week, the New Hampshire Procurement and Technical Assistance Program won the Small Business Champion Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration. In giving the award, the SBA referred to NH-PTAP as a “group of dedicated and hardworking individuals,” and added, “NH-PTAP works tirelessly for their clients in their pursuit of government contract opportunities.”

By a lucky coincidence (really!), our interviewee this week is Martha Keene, who’s been a procurement specialist with NH-PTAP since 2002. She’s APTAC-certified as a Level II contracting assistance specialist, consulting with businesses around the state to educate them one-on-one about marketing to the government and about procurement, including both direct opportunities with the government and indirect opportunities as a subcontractor or supplier to prime contractors.

She took some time out of her schedule to talk this week about how to succeed in government bidding and contracting, as well as why New Hampshire succeeds when it comes to setting Granite State businesses up for valuable contracting opportunities.
1. You’re the longest-tenured member of the NH-PTAP team. What do you love most about the work you do?

It’s very rewarding at the end of the day knowing that I helped a company get ready to work for the government at some level, and then watching it move forward and win their its contract.

Martha

Martha Keene ~ NH-PTAP

2. Are the NH-PTAP services designed only for enterprise-level businesses, or do you assist small businesses and entrepreneurs, too?

Size is not a factor – we will work with businesses as small as one person, and most of our clients are small businesses. Readiness is a much bigger issue than size.
We like our clients to be in businesses for at least two years, successfully.

But, it all depends on the company’s products or services. We never turn people away. We talk to them and show them what is involved with contracting and help them make the determination to move forward or not. If a company is not ready for our services, we direct them to one of our resource partners to help them become more ready for government contracting, and then they eventually come back to us.

3. After working with more than 2,000 businesses, have you seen a common set of attributes that lead to success in the government contracting space?

Knowing the marketplace for your products or services.
Focusing on your capabilities – your special niche.
Knowing your competition.
Having a good accounting system, solid financials and business processes helps a lot.
Being persistent and networking with anyone who can help you grow your business.

4.What are one or two of the big mistakes businesses make when trying to land a government contract, and how do you help solve them?

One mistake is that people don’t follow directions and this makes them unresponsive. People need to take more time to read and review their bids – attention to details is always critical. The simple mistake of not signing a document can make you ‘unresponsive.’ So always take your time to read and review everything.

One of NH-PTAP’s services is to review solicitations with our clients and to work with them on bids and proposals to make sure that they are properly responsive.

5. If a business located out of state was considering a move here, what would you say sets New Hampshire apart?

Almost every state has a procurement technical assistance center/program, so these services are not unique to just New Hampshire. Where we excel is that we offer very good one-on-one counseling services to our clients to help them decide if government contracting is right for them or not.

New Hampshire business culture is generally more aggressive – we have a willingness to look for regional or national business opportunities much more than is typical of some of our neighboring states.

Contact Martha at martha.keene@dred.nh.gov.


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