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Archive for February, 2015

Five Questions with Mike Cashion, Concord Young Professionals Network

Friday, February 27th, 2015

(Check back every Friday to meet someone we think you should know in our new series, Five Questions. -Ed.)

One of the most vital resources to businesses, the entrepreneurial environment, and the economy in general is the young professional workforce. Nationwide, young professionals hold 27 percent of professional jobs and often are motivated by a different set of values than the generations preceding them. They also have a different set of challenges.

Mike Cashion

Mike Cashion

To dig a little deeper into the young professional mindset, we spoke with Mike Cashion, a member of the Concord Young Professionals Network and an advocate for the growth and success of young professionals in New Hampshire.

What’s the state of the state for young professionals in New Hampshire these days?

Here are the positives: If you’re a young professional in New Hampshire who is willing to put the time and effort in, you’ll do well and be sought after, due to the comparatively low population of 20 and 30-somethings. The potential for a ‘seat at the table’ is decent. While New Hampshire is not as sought after as more popular cities for those in their 20s and 30s – like Boston, New York City, Denver and others – the future for New Hampshire could be great … it’s full of opportunity.

Here are the challenges: The largest concentration of young professionals is in southern New Hampshire, where the income potential is highest and the commute to Boston is easier, which can draw young professionals out of state. And it’s still very tough to be the only one at the table under the age of 40 and sometimes 50, because there is a resistance to new ideas and change. This is a challenge for young professionals everywhere.

Can you share a couple of examples of young professionals groups doing awesome things in the state recently?

The Concord Young Professionals Network has brought in anchor tenants to its events. Those are prominent people in the community who are advocates for young professionals, are successful in their careers and want to help facilitate change. CYPN is also heavily focusing on return on investment for its members.

The Manchester Young Professionals Network’s NH Startup Challenge and Corner Office Connections Program are top-notch and put young professionals in front of change-makers.

Fusion, in the Lakes Region, is fairly new to the young professionals realm and is doing a variety of cool events that are outside of the traditional networking activity, like kick boxing, snowboarding/skiing/tubing and more fun stuff that us young people really enjoy.

Finally, Catapult is bringing attention to 10 rising stars under the age of 40 out on the Seacoast with its “10 to Watch.”

What are a couple of the top challenges young professionals are facing right now? What’s keeping them up at night?

For those of us who want to work for other people, it’s finding the opportunities we’d like to have, with the right flexibility or pay grade. Those of us looking to start a new company have hurdles in regard to raising capital, and developing the talent pool is a priority, especially in regard to tech.

Education is extremely expensive in our country at this point and many young people are struggling to make enough to live comfortably without staying with mom and dad or rooming with multiple roommates.

A friend recently shared a very strong opinion that New Hampshire is welcoming to young professionals and yet there seems to be an important opportunity for the university system to offer more support for young professionals before they even enter the workforce.

Also, compared to more urban areas like Boston and New York, New Hampshire’s public transportation system isn’t as viable an option for young professionals.

“You must have a car to be successful here,” as others have told me, as I unlock my bicycle and put on my helmet.

How are young professionals and YP groups supporting the state’s economy?

As young people we want to support local as much as possible. We’re a very entrepreneurial generation. We know there’s no life-long employment moving forward. We’re all entrepreneurs in a sense, and need to support the local shops, restaurants, farmers markets, arts markets, local startups, etc. We’re starting businesses, paying taxes and doing our best to attract our talented friends to the area, and keep our friends from jumping ship and moving elsewhere.

If there’s one message that young professionals most want to get across to older (over 40) professionals, what would it be?

We understand that you have a large amount of experience, and we value your knowledge. Our lives at the ages between 20-40 are much different than yours were (extreme education costs, we’re always on, we have to look ahead or we will fail, we value a sharing economy). If we don’t see a future, we’ll struggle to stick around. Be open to change, mentor us, teach us your ways, and give us an opportunity to be a part of your succession planning.

International Business: Doing Business in Spain

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Nathaniel Nelson, our international trade officer, reports on the recent roundtable discussion in Portsmouth held earlier this week. – Ed.

New Hampshire’s 20-mile coastline is home to numerous maritime technology businesses eager to expand their reach to distant shores.

Representatives of these firms came out to a recent roundtable discussion with Angela Turrin, an international trade specialist with the U.S. Commercial Service stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Spain.


Angela Turrin, left, at the recent roundtable discussion about doing business in Spain.

Why was this an important meeting for these New Hampshire businesses? For the valuable insight it provided into a market that can only come from those with first-hand knowledge.

During the meeting, Turrin provided her thoughts on many cultural factors, such as ways to cultivate relationships and the tempo of business transactions in the region. Entry into foreign markets is no easy task, so foreknowledge is extremely valuable.

The meeting enabled local businesses to learn the value and benefit of the many partnerships that the State of New Hampshire has built with national and international partners. It is these partnerships that can help make entry into a foreign market go from challenging to manageable.

As we saw here and at previous roundtables, unique opportunities often arise. Those attending this meeting were introduced to a new overseas market, were able to ask questions, and put forth ideas to the experts. During the exchange, Turrin learned about the capabilities of these New Hampshire companies, which will serve her well as she works on establishing business connections for them.

The takeaway for these companies is that they need to explore maritime opportunities in the Iberian Peninsula. According to Turrin, that region serves as one of the main gateways to the European market due to its strategic location near France’s border and the Cantabrian Sea, with open access to the Atlantic Ocean and the cultural and geographical closeness to Africa. The Basque Country is also positioned as one of the world’s leading regions in the field of marine renewable energies.

Participating businesses received valuable insight into some of the niche trade shows for future participation (e.g., Oceanology International, Ocean Business) and highlighted some ways that US companies could benefit from partnering with the U.S. Commercial Service. Participants were provided with a list of European distributors of marine science and ocean technologies.

Nathaniel Nelson  International Trade Officer Office of International Commerce

Nathaniel Nelson – Office of International Commerce

The meeting concluded with remarks noting that Spain and Portugal have a lot of room for growth and trade in the Marine Technology sector and that this is a demand that New Hampshire businesses can meet.

Now that the businesses have been provided with some stones to lay a foundation for entry into the markets discussed, they can now begin taking the next steps of building upon those stones and, ultimately, grow their business.

Five Questions with Dave Pease, NH PTAP Program Manager

Friday, February 20th, 2015

(Welcome to our newest feature, Five Questions. Every week, nheconomy.com will introduce you to some of the most interesting and business-savvy people in New Hampshire, all within five questions. Ed.)


Selling to the government, whether at the federal, state, or local levels, can be a daunting challenge for businesses to pursue. It can also be a tremendous opportunity, with nearly half a trillion dollars waiting to be spent on products and services – some of which might surprise you.Print

To learn more about selling to government agencies, we talked to David Pease, program manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program. PTAP is a cooperative program of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency and the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. NH-PTAP’s sole purpose is to help New Hampshire businesses win contracts and subcontracts with a wide variety of government agencies.


What do the opportunities for contracting with the federal government look like in 2015?

Sequestration and the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced government spending, so government contracting opportunities have become more competitive over the past few years. That said, it’s still an enormous market.

Federal contracting budgets peaked at $539 billion in 2011 and have declined steadily to $445 billion in 2014, a reduction of about 7 percent per year. We expect this to level off, unless Congress allows sequestration to continue, in which case the decline will continue and possibly accelerate.

Defense contracts are experiencing a shift from expenditures to support ‘boots on the ground’ to more strategic systems – ships, subs and aircraft systems. Drone-related expenditures remain high and are likely to continue to do so.

What business industries in New Hampshire have the best chances of landing a federal contract?

The federal government is always seeking the most effective goods and services at the lowest price consistent with high quality. New Hampshire companies that have excellent products, and are ‘lean and mean’ enough to provide them at highly competitive prices will continue to see good opportunities in the federal markets.

Many New Hampshire high-tech manufacturers have been, and will continue to be, successful bidders for federal contracts and subcontracts. In the wake of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, or commonly, ‘the Stimulus’), many New Hampshire construction contractors geared up for federal contracts, and have had increasing success carving out market share that they are likely to hold on to going forward.

We also have some outstanding specialty companies that will continue to see opportunities for their products and services.

What industries or types of companies would people be surprised to learn have received federal contracts with the help of PTAP?

The list is almost endless – juvenile furniture (cribs for Army daycare centers), off-road race driver training (for special operations troops) and investigation services (for the Department of Justice), to name just a few.

According to the SBA, “most of New Hampshire’s small businesses are very small, as 76.8 percent of all businesses have no employees, and most employers have fewer than 20 employees.” Are there opportunities for companies as small as these to bid for and win federal contracts?

Depending, of course, on the nature of the business, absolutely there are opportunities for the smallest of small businesses. Quite a number of our small machine shops, for example, make parts for military systems.

There are numerous small (but significant) contracts for landscaping, all of the construction trades, training services, security services, technical experts, food products, specialty garments – the list goes on and on.

What are the first steps business owners would have to take, if they’ve never done it before, to be able to bid for a federal contract?

We recommend that they become an NH-PTAP client. We provide free consulting and training to help New Hampshire businesses succeed with government contracting.

We usually start with an evaluation to understand the nature of the government markets for the company’s products or services. If the market appears to be attractive, then the company needs to determine what it needs to do to be ready to do business with Uncle Sam.

The legendary “red tape” is real, but NH-PTAP provides expert help getting through it, not just to winning a contract, but also through all of the requirements to comply with the government’s rules, along the way to successful completion and payment.
PTAP’s next training session is on Feb. 26, covering Federal Website Navigation III in Claremont. It’s a workshop where you’ll learn about the advanced tools available in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG). FPDS is the repository of historical federal procurement data and can be used to better understand Federal customers’ buying patterns and structure. It also offers an opportunity to research and monitor the Federal sales of competitors and potential team members. Used effectively, FPDS can be a powerful market research tool. For more details, prerequisites, and to register for free, click here. For a list of all upcoming PTAP training events, click here.

… And the Winners Are …

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015


Congratulations to our winners and many thanks to the students, teachers, advisers and manufacturers who took part in the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contest.

For look at all the videos, click on over to the contest channel.


Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
NH Division of Economic Development

The Countdown is On!! Video Contest Winners’ Announcement Coming Tuesday!

Friday, February 13th, 2015


12 Schools!

13 Videos!

Who is going to win the What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contest?

3rd Prize: $500

2nd Prize: $750

1st: Prize: $1,000

Tune in at 10 am, Tuesday, Feb. 17 right here on nheconomy.com to find out!

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
NH Division of Economic Development

That Time Again: Register Today for Small Business Day

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

It’s that time of year again – the Business and Industry Association’s annual Small Business Day, taking place from 7:30 am – noon, on Friday (the 13th) at the Holiday Inn, Concord.

Now in its 10th year, the BIA partners up with us and the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center for discussions with small business owners from around the state and timely information that helps them to manage and grow their businesses.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has been invited to make welcoming remarks, followed by a panel discussion featuring the state’s top elected leaders: Senate President Chuck Morse; House Speaker Shawn Jasper; Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. The state leadership panel will focus specifically on top small business issues of 2015 and how state elected leaders will resolve them.

Three educational sessions will follow. The first, Strong Businesses – Strong Profits – Strong Economy, will feature panelists Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development; Kit McCormick, New Hampshire Small Business Development Center; and a representative from TD Bank. They will discuss the NH SBDC’s pilot program to help business owners pinpoint areas in their businesses that would benefit from targeted SBDC assistance, educational resources and accountability, ultimately helping to strengthen their bottom lines.

During the next session, New Hampshire’s Energy Crisis: How Did We Get Here and What Can We Do About It?, Maureen Callahan, business development manager for Usource Inc., and Emile Clavet, co-owner of Provider Power, will discuss the circumstances causing New Hampshire’s dramatically rising energy costs and strategies to address this critical challenge.

The final session, Update on the ACA: Obligations and Opportunities for Small Businesses, feature discussion the current environment surrounding the Affordable Care Act, requirements for business owners and opportunities to better control their healthcare dollars.

The cost to attend Small Business Day is $15 per person and includes continental breakfast. Register here or call 603.224.5388 x116.