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Got Brew? What About Wheels? Checking in on Derry-Londonderry

August 28th, 2015

A few weeks ago, Will Stewart, president of the Greater Derry-Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, caught us up on a few things happening in the region that are adding some extra horsepower to its economic engine.

The first is the debut about a month ago of the Derry-Londonderry Beer and Mead Tour rack card that spills the secret on a growing industry, made up of four breweries – 603 Brewery (Londonderry); From the Barrel Brewery (Londonderry); Kelsen Brewing Company (Derry); Rockingham Brewing Company (Derry) and Moonlight Meadery (Londonderry).

With all these places located less than two miles off I-93, the tour targets travelers interested in brews and meads, who may then do some shopping or stop to eat locally before heading on their journeys.

Check out the story

The other effort gaining momentum and seeing some great return is, as Will described, “bicycle-related economic development.”

It involves the Londonderry-Derry-Windham sections of the Granite State Rail Trail (the former Manchester and Lawrence line of the old Boston & Maine Railroad).

“Shop and restaurant owners located near the trail tell me that it’s a big draw, attracting people from Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, that has a very real impact on their bottom lines,” he said.

Southern New Hampshire is a hotspot for commerce and manufacturing. Things like a bike trail, breweries and a meadery help create a dimension to a community, providing places to gather, explore, appreciate and of which to be very proud.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

On Coming to Manchester: One Company’s Story

August 24th, 2015

After spending about a year looking for the right location to expand his business from New York City, Neil Sikder, founder and CEO of Maia Strategy, settled in Manchester. Last week, he hosted a grand opening and as he raised a toast, his insight into what helped him to make that decision was interesting … and inspiring.

As Michael Bergeron, our senior business development manager, told the New Hampshire Sunday News this week, “I like the fact that they focused on Manchester and New Hampshire because they want to hire young, talented people right out of college, and they were convinced that this was the city and the state to do that.”

Welcome to New Hampshire, Maia Strategy!

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

5 Questions with Mark Kaplan, Alpha Loft

August 21st, 2015

Innovation.

It’s a buzz word, it’s a value proposition and it’s been appropriated to describe every kind of product or service you can imagine. But what does it truly mean to be innovative? And how do you create an environment where innovation becomes an economic engine for a state like New Hampshire?

To explore these ideas, we interviewed Mark Kaplan*, CEO of Alpha Loft. Alpha Loft is dedicated to accelerating the development of early-stage, scalable businesses, commercializing the intellectual capital developed at the University of New Hampshire and other leading educational institutions and creating sustainable employment opportunities in the state.

Mark has 30 years of executive, financial, venture capital and investment industry experience. During the past 15 years, he worked in entrepreneurial endeavors, including as a venture capitalist with Maine-based CEI Ventures. He was actively engaged in building Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and now brings his decades of expertise to bear on the New Hampshire innovation economy.

Mark Kaplan ~ Alpha Loft

Mark Kaplan ~ Alpha Loft

1. Alpha Loft has evolved in recent years, making the transition from ‘incubator’ to ‘accelerator.’ How would you define the difference between those two concepts?

The transformation to become the organization now known as Alpha Loft goes beyond a transition between the two concepts, so I’d like to provide a brief history.

Alpha Loft resulted from the combination of three entities; the NH-ICC on the Seacoast, the abi Innovation Hub in Manchester and a co-working space named Alpha Loft in Portsmouth. Each separately was trying to stimulate entrepreneurship in New Hampshire, creating high growth companies and jobs, and improving the economy in the state.

The combination created a single platform operating with a focused mission across the southern part of the state. It brought together networks of people and companies to support this focused effort under a single organization, which can better leverage the state’s resources.

Today, Alpha Loft has attributes of an incubator, while also now running Accelerate NH, an accelerator program. The attributes of incubation include locations where entrepreneurs work, educational workshops where they can learn from experts, peer learning opportunities, advisors on staff, a strong network of people they can meet and learn from, networking events, and a supportive community.

Alpha Loft also works with UNH and other institutions of higher education to assist in commercializing intellectual property and research, and in bringing an entrepreneurial culture to students and faculty. In addition, we’ve focused resources on the accelerator program to take a small group of companies through an intensive three-month program of education and mentorship to dramatically accelerate their growth.

2. Your organization strives to support innovation-based businesses. What makes a business innovation-based?

An innovation-based company is one that applies technology, intellectual property, creativity, or new business models in delivering new ideas, products, and services to its market. It may be one that utilizes technology in a new way, develops new technology for the market, or creates a method of meeting market demand using a new method or approach.

3. You kicked off 2015 with an inaugural Accelerate NH class. What excited you about the roster of companies chosen by the panel of judges to participate in this groundbreaking program?

First of all, we were thrilled to receive many more applications to Accelerate NH than we anticipated, and all the more so because the quality of the applications was so high. It indicates to us there is a lot of startup activity going on and that accelerator programs are in demand.

We’re excited about this first class of Accelerate NH, which has a range of companies and entrepreneurs. We’ve got two companies developing products that include a hardware aspect, as well as software. We have a team of students from UNH who’ve already had success getting significant traffic to a page they’ve been running for a few years and are preparing to build on that foundation. We have a team that includes parents and high school students solving a problem they saw in the elementary school in their town and are now rolling out a product to solve it.

In summary, we’ve got a group of talented innovators seeking to build successful companies who recognize the benefits that will be derived from the accelerator program. It looks like a real win for everyone involved and we believe some successful growing companies will result.

4. You also run the 2015 NH Startup Challenge, in partnership with the Manchester YPN. How was the challenge different this year for applicants than it was last year?

We’re pleased to once again be partnering with MYPN on the NH Startup Challenge. MYPN manages the competition and judging process. Alpha Loft supports the competition by providing space for some of the events, advice and guidance on the competition mechanics, and with an in-kind donation of membership for the contest winner.

MYPN decided to change the competition in 2015 by adding a people’s choice award, giving the audience at the final round the opportunity to choose one of the presenters to receive $3,500 in prize money (awarded to BevNow, an app for ordering refreshments while on a golf course). This is in addition to the substantial prize package awarded to one company selected by the judging panel (VidFall, a daily-deals-style service).

5. In your opinion, why is New Hampshire the ideal place for entrepreneurs to start, launch, and scale their businesses?

New Hampshire is a great place for entrepreneurs for three primary reasons:

– It is a wonderful place to live and offers a very high quality of life;

– New Hampshire has a terrific network of highly experienced entrepreneurs, service providers, professionals and others with whom it is easy to connect and who are very willing to get engaged to help entrepreneurs just starting up;

– In southern New Hampshire, entrepreneurs can have all that and are still proximate to the active entrepreneurial ecosystem in neighboring Massachusetts, which means having the best of both worlds.

* Mark was a recent guest on nhEconomy.com’s monthly radio show on WTPL-FM107.7. Hear his conversation with Division of Economic Development Director Carmen Lorentz.

Keeping Score: High Marks for New Hampshire

August 18th, 2015

Like the perfect New Hampshire summer weather, the Granite State has had a good run of good news over the past few weeks about how we fare when it comes to how we do business.

This morning, in releasing its 4th annual survey, Thumbtack declared Manchester no. 1 and New Hampshire no. 2 when it comes to business friendliness. Those responding to the survey gave our state an A+ for overall business friendliness, ease of starting a business, the tax code and licensing. The lowest grade was a C+ for ease of hiring, which may have something to do with our low unemployment rate (3.8 percent in June).

A few weeks ago, ZipRecruiter.com pegged Manchester at no. 8 on its list of Top 10 tech cities.

In its 11th annual rankings report earlier this month, Business Facilities magazine put New Hampshire up high on a couple of its lists: High wage manufacturing leader (#9); best business tax climate (#7); employment leader (#7).

MSN ranked the economies of the 50 states, based on unemployment rates, gross domestic product per capita, average weekly wages, and recent growth rates for nonfarm payroll jobs, GDP, house prices, and wages, and New Hampshire came in at no. 8.

Surveys and rankings are a nice measure of how we measure up compared to others. What’s even better is seeing businesses expand, like Titeflex in Laconia (see video above), and grow here because how we do business works.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

5 Questions: Jeff Feingold, New Hampshire Business Review

August 14th, 2015

With so many ways to get the news of the minute, hour, day or week, the sheer volume can take up valuable time. In New Hampshire, we’re fortunate to have venerable publications that devote space and talent to covering the people, trends and opinions about the businesses and industries that keep our economy humming. Today’s guest is Jeff Feingold, editor of the bi-weekly NH Business Review, who does, in fact, mind our business and offers his tips for getting his publication’s attention about your news.

Jeff Feingold ~ NH Business Review

Jeff Feingold ~ NH Business Review

1. What kinds of business news are you looking to publish these days?

We publish a wide range of news about New Hampshire businesses and nonprofits. In addition to our staff-written articles on issues and trends affecting business, we regularly publish features and interviews with businesspeople and others of interest to our readers. We also welcome announcements of new products/services, staff changes, relocations, awards and honors, charitable donations — you name it.

 
2. Can businesses still get a garden-variety press release published in NHBR anymore?

We do publish information from press releases, mostly in our regular feature, The Latest. We also have a calendar we update daily online and appears in print each issue.

 
3. What are two to three suggestions businesses can do better to increase the chances their news release will be used in NHBR?

– Make sure it’s applicable to our audience, news that our readers would be interested in.

– Include an interesting photo.

– Make sure the press release is short, to the point and written in plain English. Press releases filled with jargon and those that take two or three paragraphs to get to their point definitely have less of a chance of being read all the way through and making it to print or online.

 
4. What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve seen business professionals make in trying to get you to publish their news for them?

Sending releases to a publication without even having read an issue and not knowing what the frequency of a publication is. If you’re contacting a publication about a time-specific event or story, it’s a good idea to do it well before the event’s date. You increase your changes of getting the event covered if you give advance notice.

 
5. How do businesses best go about submitting a release for your consideration?

The best way to email it to me at jfeingold@nhbr.com, or our assistant editor, Liisa Rajala, at lrajala@nhbr.com

5 Questions with Phil Ferneau, Borealis Ventures

August 6th, 2015

The next best idea that could change the world may just come out of New Hampshire or northern New England. But getting that idea off the ground and into our lives is the challenge, especially if it’s hard to find early stage capital. This is where folks like Phil Ferneau and Borealis Ventures comes in and that’s who we meet in today’s Five Questions.

phil

Phil Ferneau ~ Borealis Ventures

1. Borealis is particularly passionate about supporting New Hampshire businesses. What is it about the Granite State that drives you?

We founded Borealis on our first-hand knowledge of New Hampshire’s entrepreneurial potential and our confidence in its investment opportunities. Beyond that, this is where we live, raise our families, and contribute to our communities. While we have invested elsewhere, the Granite State is where our professional commitment to supporting exceptional entrepreneurs aligns with our personal convictions to make a difference by helping to build the state’s next generation of high-growth technology companies.

 
2. Where do you see the biggest opportunity for startups and entrepreneurial ventures in New Hampshire?

New Hampshire’s academic campuses and established technology companies have historically helped inspire and launch many of the state’s entrepreneurs. That remains true today with promising startups emerging from, for instance, the software and Internet infrastructure community around Manchester and Nashua, the Upper Valley’s bioengineering cluster, and innovative students and faculty at campuses across the state. More fundamentally, New Hampshire’s attractive business climate, quality of living, and wealth of social capital make the state a compelling place to build companies that can serve customers worldwide. In today’s connected global economy, innovation possesses the same inherent commercial opportunity when the eureka arises in New Hampshire as it does in larger metropolitan areas.

 
3. What are two or three of your latest New Hampshire-based ventures?

Our newest investment is Adored, which uses Apple’s iBeacon technology to help businesses and brands engage more effectively with their customers. Another recent investment is Builtr, a media intelligence company that we founded to serve the architecture, engineering, and construction professionals who create our built environment. We are also enthusiastic about the progress of our more developed NH investments, including Adimab (antibody discovery), Avitide (biopharmaceutical purification), DYN (Internet as a Service), and Newforma (project information management software).

 
4. Borealis plays a key role in business competitions like TechOut. How have these events helped the entrepreneurial community in New Hampshire?

Borealis has supported business competitions in New Hampshire from our earliest days – not just TechOut, but also Accelerate NH and Dartmouth Ventures in the past year alone. We believe such events provide invaluable opportunities not only to showcase emerging companies and help them refine their pitches and access the resources needed to build their businesses, but also more generally to rally the state’s entrepreneurial community and inspire new startups.

 
5. What’s next on the horizon for Borealis? How will you soon be making an even bigger impact in New Hampshire and beyond?

As New Hampshire’s leading early-stage investor over the past decade, we look forward to continuing to invest in the state’s most promising emerging technology startups. Beyond that, we are passionate about furthering the entrepreneurial infrastructure to attract, educate, connect, mentor, and otherwise nurture the state’s next generation of technology innovators and business builders. We are enthusiastic and active supporters of the organizations that are building real momentum in New Hampshire’s startup scene, including Alphaloft in Manchester and the Seacoast, the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) in the Upper Valley, as well as the statewide Live Free and Start initiative.

Próxima Misión Comercial de Nueva Hampshire a Colombia (Join Our Trade Mission to Colombia)

August 6th, 2015

(Kristine Adams is our intern this summer at the Office of International Commerce and we’re taking full advantage of her expertise; she has a dual major in international relations and Spanish, with a minor in politics, at St. Anselm College, where she’ll be a senior. Working with US Commercial Service, she’s helping to coordinate our trade mission to Colombia. – Ed.)

¡Buenos días, empresas de Nueva Hampshire!

With its fast growing economy and free trade agreements in place, Colombia is market rich in opportunity that New Hampshire businesses should explore by joining the Office of International Commerce on a trade mission to Colombia, Oct. 19-21.

This mission offers New Hampshire businesses an introduction to this South American country.

Why join a trade mission? It’s typically a government-supported business development program where participants considering international expansion meet directly with potential customers and partners in a foreign market. Our goal is to introduce New Hampshire businesses to those in Colombia through the combined networks of the OIC, US Commercial Service and the US Embassy.

Value-added services, like group transportation, a country briefing with the U.S. Embassy, personalized translation for your business meetings and a networking reception with the U.S. ambassador, are also included.

Colombia

Colombia

Why Colombia? Many OIC clients have expressed interest in expanding to Latin America and Colombia has market needs that align with the goods and services New Hampshire businesses produce. Some of these target markets include (but are not limited to): aerospace and defense; education; electric power and renewable energy; food processing equipment; IT; infrastructure; medical equipment; processed food and beverages, and travel and tourism.

Economic indicators in Colombia are strong. With political stability, continued growth and moderate inflation, the Colombian economy is the fourth largest in Latin America and boasts major commercial and investment ties to the rest of the world. With the implementation of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement in 2012, Colombia has become the third largest market for U.S. exports in Latin America. Last year, New Hampshire businesses exported $30,409,307 worth of goods there.

Why use the AmCham? In addition to the support of the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, the American Chamber of Commerce of Colombia, a non-profit organization with over 1,000 affiliated Colombian companies, will provide supplementary services to New Hampshire businesses and coordinate high value appointments with potential partners and customers outside of Bogotá. Collectively, its offices in Bogotá, Barranquilla, Cali, Cartagena and Medellin have over 60 years of experience in stimulating trade and investment between the US and Colombia.

Not sure if your business has what Colombia needs? The OIC can arrange for a conference call with the U.S. Embassy and the AmCham to discuss your market potential – at no cost to you.

For more information on the Trade Mission to Colombia and how to join us, contact Tina Kasim, OIC program manager OIC or Justin Oslowski at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

¡Nos vemos en Bogotá!

Kristine Adams
Intern
Office of International Commerce

 

Making New Hampshire Outstanding at Trade Shows

August 4th, 2015
GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

NH Economy trade show booth

We’d like to introduce you to our new trade show booth!

The Division of Economic Development plans to take part in a couple of trade shows in the coming year. We’re confident this will really stand out and be an inviting draw that will give us the opportunity to talk with businesses about expanding or relocating here.

(We’d like to be sitting in one of those chairs right now … )

 

 

Five Questions with Liz Gray, Live Free and Start

July 31st, 2015

The entrepreneurial ecosystem for New Hampshire’s high-tech businesses is thriving. Much of it has to do with the ingenuity and selflessness of professionals throughout the state, sharing their time and expertise to create connections to funding, networks, skilled workers, mentorship and so much more.

One of the people leading the charge is Liz Gray, director of the Live Free and Start initiative. A joint venture of the Governor’s Office, the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority, and the Division of Economic Development, LFS is focused on job creation and making it easier for technology companies to start, grow, and succeed in New Hampshire. Liz originally hails from New York, but while attending the University of New Hampshire, she fell in love with the Granite State. She served under two governors and worked in the state senate before joining the New Hampshire Business Finance Authority as director of entrepreneurship and taking a leadership role in the LFS initiative.


1. Live Free and Start is barely a year old, yet it’s already had a major impact on the business community. To what do you attribute its success so far?

gray

Liz Gray ~ Live Free and Start

We launched the initiative at a time when the business community was eager to have the state take a more active role in directly supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Because Live Free and Start is a joint initiative of the Governor’s Office, the NH Business Finance Authority and the Department of Resources and Economic Development, we’ve had a tremendous amount of support at the highest levels of state government. Governor Hassan is the initiative’s biggest champion and talks about the work of LFS whenever she can. I also have the pleasure of working with an advisory council made up of 14 accomplished high-tech entrepreneurs and business leaders from across New Hampshire.

Right from the start, we knew we didn’t have all the answers. We took the time to listen and learn. Governor Hassan hosted a series of business roundtables; LFS led focus groups and I met with business leaders and ecosystem partners from across the state to better understand current challenges. We brought people together. We wanted this initiative to be inclusive and focused on solving challenges that both startups and established companies identified. After taking the time to listen and ask questions, I believe we were better prepared to take action and provide strategic recommendations to the governor and legislature.

 I am proud that members of the New Hampshire Legislature strongly supported two of Live Free and Start’s priorities; SB 266 (securities modernization act) and SB 223 (business name availability standard). It also supported the governor’s proposal to provide state funding to support education and acceleration programs at New Hampshire’s business incubators. Votes in the Senate and the House sent strong messages that lawmakers, too, were eager to support the state’s startup ecosystem.

 

2. Your mission is to create jobs and make it easier for technology companies to start, grow and succeed in New Hampshire. What does that look like on a day-to-day basis?

Live Free and Start began as an idea a little over a year ago. Every project, from the design of the website and marketing campaign, to our legislative agenda and Ultimate Connection Competition, was brand new to us and had to be developed from scratch. Needless to say, I’ve worn a lot of hats!

My days are spent drafting and shepherding our legislation through the legislative process, in meetings with our marketing agency developing the website, strategizing with the LFS Advisory Council, reaching out to companies to see if they would like to be highlighted through our Innovator of the Week series, meeting with stakeholders to discuss partnerships and initiatives, attending startup events around the state hosted by our outstanding incubator network or the New Hampshire High Tech Council, and then of course looking ahead to figure out what’s next for Live Free and Start. That’s just in the past few months!

I know I’m not alone in saying this, but there is always so much to do and never enough time in the day to get it all done. Thankfully, I love my job and the amazing people I get to work with and learn from every day. I am very optimistic that Live Free and Start can make some great progress going forward. I love knowing that I’m able to play a small part in making NH a better place for our tech startups.

 

3. In little more than a month, you announced the launch of the Ultimate NH Connection competition and crowned the first winner. What did you learn about the state of tech entrepreneurship in New Hampshire as a result?

Each and every day I am amazed at the groundbreaking technologies and solutions to real-world challenges being developed in New Hampshire’s tech startups. The men and women founders in our state’s e-ecosystem walk the walk. They’re up at dawn for meetings, on the phone pitching prospective clients during the day, networking at night, working in the wee hours of the morning – then doing it all over again chasing their dream.

Whether it’s their first company or their fifth, NH’s tech entrepreneurs are blazing a path forward. NH’s tech scene may be smaller than some tech hubs, but I can assure you that our companies and our founders can compete with the best of the best. I encourage you to see for yourself and learn more about what these inspiring men and women are doing through Live Free and Start’s Innovator of the Week series.

 

4. Ultimate NH Connection is one of many start-up/tech-focused competitions in NH. In your opinion, why has this competition model become so popular?

 In general, startup competitions are exciting, people love a good competition. They bring people together to showcase up-and-coming businesses, and of course, give out cash prizes to the winners. But in NH our startup challenges are doing more. In true NH fashion, the challenges have volunteer judges and mentors. In addition to cash prizes, our incubators, law firms, CPAs and marketing agencies are donating their time and expertise to support our entrepreneurs. This is another way New Hampshire provides a unique and extremely supportive environment for startups.

In terms of LFS’s Ultimate NH Connection, this competition truly highlighted the level of accessibility new businesses can have to stakeholders across the state. NH prides itself on being a very accessible state. In many cases, you’re an email or a phone call away from connecting with someone or something that can help move your business along. LFS was fortunate to have a number of fantastic entrepreneurs apply for the competition, and we were pleased to crown PickUp Patrol as our first winner.

The Ultimate NH Connection achieved what so many entrepreneurs would like to have the opportunity to participate in: A meeting with a diverse group of stakeholders, all of whom bring a unique perspective and want to see the company succeed. The experts that joined the meeting with Governor Hassan and the PickUp Patrol team were thrilled to be asked to be a part of the meeting and brought a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table. It was a very fun project to be a part of, and PickUp Patrol was able to make a number of connections that will serve them well as they expand and grow in New Hampshire. You can follow PickUp Patrol’s progress through the Ultimate NH Connection blog on the LFS site.

 

5. What’s next on the horizon for Live Free and Start? What are your goals for the rest of 2015?

For a young initiative, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. In the last few months we’ve learned a lot, brought together e-ecosystem stakeholders, launched www.LiveFreeandStart.com, ran the Ultimate Connection Competition, helped get two startup friendly pieces of legislation passed (SB 266 and SB 223), and started highlighting New Hampshire tech companies for their achievements. Going forward I will be working hard to keep our website fresh with interesting blog content, expanded resource links, Innovator of the Week stories, and event posts on our statewide calendar. The Live Free and Start Advisory Council will be meeting this summer to develop a strategic plan to guide our efforts in the coming year. You can expect to see new legislative initiatives for the 2016 session, an Ultimate Connection Competition 2.0, celebratory events during NH Entrepreneurship Week and more of a focus on expanding access to capital for startups.

As we grow as an initiative, LFS will have the ability to drive change and create an even better environment for entrepreneurs to start, grow, and succeed in New Hampshire. I hope that you’ll see a lot more of LFS in the months and year ahead. To do so, we’ll need support from people like you. So come join the Live Free and Start movement and connect with us today!

Connect with Live Free and Start on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

5 Questions with Mary Collins of NH SBDC

July 24th, 2015

There’s no way to  sum up adequately, in such a short space, the impact a person like Mary Collins has had on the state of New Hampshire. At the end of May, Mary retired after more than two decades of service with the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, working tirelessly to improve the fortunes of thousands of small businesses, as well as the overall economy of the Granite State.

On the occasion of her retirement, we asked Mary a few questions – five, to be precise – about her time with the SBDC, the business environment in New Hampshire, and whether she’ll still be involved in the inner business workings of the state she’ll continue to call home.

 
1. You were with the SBDC for 22 years and served as state director for 18 of them. As you look back, what are two or three things you’ll remember most fondly about your time there?

– Engagement, and the long lasting friendships that I made with colleagues, clients, stakeholders, students and staff throughout New Hampshire and the US. As SBDC state director, I covered the entire state, served on numerous boards in NH and also had the opportunity to serve on the national Association of Small Business Development Center’s board, as well as the national accreditation team. This job has provided me the opportunity to meet and engage with wonderful people throughout New Hampshire and in all states throughout the US. Each time I drove to the North Country and passed through the notch, or headed to Keene or Portsmouth, I would think how fortunate I was to have a job that allowed me to take in the beauty of New Hampshire while working!

– Legislative Activity. SBDC is a cooperative program with the US SBA, the Department of Resources and Economic Development, the University of New Hampshire and the private sector – maintaining our federal, state and local funding is a key component of this job – and I have to admit I am a political junkie and have loved this part of my job – I love going to Washington, DC and to the Hill. Yes, we have had our critical moments such as sequestration and natural and economic disasters affecting our small businesses, however during the past 18 years I’ve been fortunate to have worked closely with our entire federal delegation and its amazing staffers, as well as several New Hampshire governors and many state legislators. This can only happen in a small state like New Hampshire – my colleagues in the large states envy our access to top federal and state leadership.

– The ability to be creative! Each day I could wake up and think of some activity or process that might assist a small business client or our staff and we could actually make it happen. The job is truly entrepreneurial and only possible with a great supportive staff, which I have so appreciated.

 
2. A lot has changed in the world of small business over the last two decades. But what would you say has stayed the same (and still remains important) for small businesses today?

Building a sustainable business requires a team effort – there are numerous federal and state programs to assist small businesses, yet entrepreneurs are so busy with day-to-day survival that they are not always aware, or do not have the time to search out these programs. A savvy entrepreneur will utilize all resources available to them as they build a strong foundation for their business – the payoff is measurable. What has also stayed the same is the need to have access to capital!

 
3. Your efforts to support business in the state go far beyond the SBDC. How has your work with the New Hampshire High Tech Council and EPSCOR (to name just two) also helped the SBDC with its own mission?

My philosophy has always been that small businesses need a  voice at the table.  The reality is that they do not have the time to attend outside meetings, nor are they always aware of critical opportunities. During the 13 years that I served on the board of the NHHTC, I was able to match the needs of SBDC clients with opportunities I learned about through NHHTC member companies, or those with whom we collaborated, such as legislators, entrepreneurs, academia etc.

For example, a SBDC client who needed an engineering lab to further develop his product was approached by a Massachusetts university, but he wanted to stay in New Hampshire. We were able to match that client with a lab at UNH.

The same has been true with my participation on the EPSCOR board, which has representation from Dartmouth, UNH, the state, and the private sector – all directed at grant opportunities for entrepreneurs in New Hampshire. The SBDC provides assistance to all aspects of running a small business – we can be our clients’ voices at the state, federal, and local level through our engagement in specific boards and committees.

 
4. What’s next for you? Are you retiring completely, moving onto another venture, or just taking time to see what will happen next?

I had been thinking about retirement for the last couple years, but I always found something else that I wanted/needed to do in my career. My husband retired four years ago and had been bugging me to join him. What finally convinced me was having time available for our long-planned trips, as well as travel to see my children and grandchildren. My son and his family are in Florida; my daughter is in Las Angeles  and my four siblings and their families are located throughout the US. We have lived in New Hampshire since 1972 and we’re not leaving! We are selling our home of 38 years in Mont Vernon and are moving to Wolfeboro where we purchased a retirement home; winter months will be in Florida.

I love being active in New Hampshire and am taking time to consider my next venture. Last fall, I was appointed by Gov. Hassan to serve on the New Hampshire Judicial Conduct Committee and look forward to continuing with that committee. In the meantime, my garden needs attention and summer in Wolfeboro on Lake Winnipesaukee with good friends at our yacht club seems very attractive!

 
5. You stayed on as an adviser to your successor, Rich Grogan, as he settled into the state director position. What would you say are his strongest qualities?

I was extremely fortunate to have excellent advice on doing a transition plan, as I can’t imagine how one walks out the door on a Friday after 18 years in this position and is completely retired. The state director’s job is one that consumes your mind day and night. The transition was carefully thought out and approved by UNH and the SBA. A search committee was established and a national search for the new state director conducted.

Rich Grogan, our Keene regional manager, was selected for the position and officially took over April 6. In the last two months, we have communicated on all issues as they surface – the job is complex with many stakeholders and funders, including federal grants, state contracts and a staff located statewide. The transition has been extremely smooth and Rich is amazing. His grasp of the global picture and the needs of small businesses is excellent. He hit the ground running and had used his time effectively by engaging our existing network and board while forging new relationships for the SBDC. He has a great sense of humor and is well-respected by staff and colleagues.

I am very fortunate to be leaving a program I care so deeply about in the hands of someone who cares about sustaining and growing the NH SBDC. Rich knows that I am just an email or phone call away, which insures continuity for our clients, staff and partners.


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