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.
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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.
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!
Division of Economic Development
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
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.
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.
Division of Economic Development
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
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 email@example.com, or our assistant editor, Liisa Rajala, at firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.
(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.
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.
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 … )