The Department of Resources and Economic Development has deep ties with Stay Work Play, the nonprofit organized to promote the benefits of New Hampshire to the under-40 workforce. Former DRED Commissioner George Bald was an original incorporator of SWP and Division of Economic Development Director Carmen Lorentz serves as a board member.
To catch up with SWP, we interviewed Kate Luczko, president and CEO of this vital workforce retention initiative. Kate has served in a leadership role at SWP for over five years, and prior to that, was part of the leadership team with NH Businesses for Social Responsibility. She’s also served as a member of the adjunct faculty at the University of New Hampshire.
Kate Luczko ~ Stay Work Play
1. Stay Work Play is growing again with the addition of Beth San Soucie, who was voted the Lakes Region’s Young Professional of the Year in 2014. To what would you attribute the growth of your organization?
Like many blossoming organizations that find their niche, there is no one factor to which we can attribute our ability to grow. It has been a combination of continuing to build and expand our network of supporters for the mission of Stay Work Play, a strong board of directors and an active board of advisors, a variety of volunteers and certainly everyone who helps spread the word of Stay Work Play, both in and outside New Hampshire.
After five years in active existence, this year we created our first strategic plan, which will help us further show impact and forward momentum, a variety of new programs and partnerships are in the works, and really, there continues to be a need for New Hampshire to focus on attracting and retaining 20- and 30-somethings to the state, and we are the only private organization that wakes up every day and tackles this issue.
2. SWP was founded in 2009 to further the 55 percent initiative and recommendations from a governor’s task force on the retention of young professionals. How has SWP progressed in these goals.
We did an exercise with our board of advisors at the end of 2014 to look at the various recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force (it had been five years since the report was finalized) to evaluate the work that has already been done (by us and others) and to prioritize the initiatives going forward.
Beyond the creation of Stay Work Play, the other recommendations made by the task force weren’t necessarily created solely for our mission, but are of significant importance to the future of New Hampshire. A number of the initiatives are right within our focus and they will continue to be important to us to take a lead on (Business of the Year award, internships, student loan repayment, etc.) and with others there are organizations with attention in those areas to move them forward and we can support their efforts (broadband, workforce housing, etc.).
Through establishing ourselves over the past five years and going through the strategic planning process, we have also created new goals and initiatives that we will move the needle on in years to come.
3. Why is the link between young professionals and economic development so important?
Today’s young talent are tomorrow’s leaders. For the future of New Hampshire we need those 20- and 30-somethings to remain in or come to New Hampshire to establish their lives in the state. They are the ones who will be starting and leading companies, buying and renting homes, supporting nonprofits, arts, and cultural organizations, utilizing our higher education resources to elevate their skills and knowledge, and all-around contributing to the local economies throughout the state.
They are the ones to not only determine what the state should look like in the future, but they are the ones who will ultimately make it happen. If we care about economic growth and the future of New Hampshire, workforce and economic development are arguably the most important issues to focus resources on. We have worked very hard over the past five years to engage key stakeholders and with a variety of partners and the state’s young talent, are positioned to help move the needle on economic growth.
4. Can you share two or three remarkable things being done by YP groups in the state today?
One of our favorite outcomes over the past five years is that the Young Professionals Networks (YPN) are collaborating with each other. In 2010, we created a Young Professionals Network Advisory board that brings a representative of each YPN together on a monthly conference call. Through these calls, we created both a feeling of being a statewide and connected effort, and also the YPNs share news, events, and best practices. They partner on events and ask each other for advice and resources. It has been great to see the former sense of competition replaced with camaraderie.
The YPNs are also being very innovative with their events and programming. In addition to the traditional networking and social events, there are business plan competitions, professionally focused summits, summer-camp-like events, mentorship programs, community-impact efforts, field trips, and more. They are taking advantage of the chance to be creative, have fun, provide value, appeal to the younger demographic and help young professionals connect with each other and New Hampshire.
Finally, they are finding ways to make themselves relevant to the audiences they’re trying to reach. With 13 YPNs around NH and such a unique multi-faceted state, what works in Manchester doesn’t necessarily work in Littleton. So they are asking their young professional members what would be valuable to them, how they can best serve them, and then they’re taking steps to make it happen. With the YPNs being primarily volunteer-run and having over 10,000 members collectively, it is remarkable how much they accomplish and how much value they add to NH. We call them the “boots on the ground” for Stay Work Play and the Granite State.
5. The Rising Stars Awards are coming up soon. Can you tell us a bit about the history and the purpose of the awards?
The idea of hosting an awards competition was another recommendation of Governor Lynch’s task force. We hosted our first competition and event in 2010 as a way to recognize young talent, businesses and organizations that care about young talent, and initiatives working to help recruit and retain them.
While the original goals remain much the same, the competition has changed and grown over the six years since its inception. We have added three awards: College Student of the Year, Civic Leader of the Year, and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, to the original lineup of Young Professional of the Year, Coolest Companies for Young Professionals, and Leadership Development Program of the Year.
The celebratory event has grown tremendously too. Just two years ago, our goal was to have 200 people in attendance, which would have been our largest turnout yet, and this year we expect over 500 people. We have done a lot to make it not your typical rubber chicken dinner. We try and find fun elements and to further emphasize our goal of bringing awareness and recognition to those people and organizations who are working hard to make New Hampshire an amazing place.
This year we are at a very unique venue, the Space Entertainment Center in Hooksett. When was the last time you attended a business event and went up against your local bank president and friendly college senior at skeeball?! In addition to a fun arcade-game-filled venue, we have live music, raffle baskets representing businesses and organizations in six regions throughout New Hampshire (the hope being someone from the Seacoast wins the North Country – White Mountains basket and gets the chance to experience a less-familiar part of the state), an inspiring keynote speaker, the announcement of all of our winners, and a stellar crowd with which to network.
The Rising Stars Awards event takes place at 5:30 pm, Monday, Oct. 5. You may register here. This year’s finalist are listed here.
The author of a recent manufacturing study in New England and the director of supply chain operations for Raytheon headline the 13th annual Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit on Oct. 9.
The event brings together over 200 people representing manufacturing plants and high-tech companies from the around the state and culminates Manufacturing Week. Once again this year, dozens of manufacturers and education centers open their doors to high school students for a look into New Hampshire’s top industry and the career opportunities it offers.
“Manufacturing is alive and well in New Hampshire,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Rose of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. “This is an industry that employs 68,000 people and drives our economic engine. This annual conference brings together hundreds of people who work hard to ensure manufacturing remains healthy and robust.”
Keynote speaker Alison Land, senior manager for Deloitte’s strategy and operations practice, is a co-author and editor of the New England Council’s Advanced to Advantageous report. Published in April, the report’s findings noted “New England as a region enjoys a competitively advantaged position with respect to advanced manufacturing, stemming from an intricate network of cross-sector relationships (industry, government, and education) that have evolved over time.”
Neil Perry, director of supply chain operations integrated defense systems at Raytheon Co., will speak about Supply Chain Transformation.
“In addition to our two keynote speakers, four workshops take a collaborative look at the challenges in manufacturing – workforce development, implementing and using Lean principles and embracing change,” said Zenagui Brahim, president of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership. “There is a lot packed into this one-day summit, but each part of it is vital to keeping our manufacturing industry strong.”
The summit takes place at the Center of New Hampshire, Manchester, and the cost for the day’s program is $95. Tickets are available online.
The conference is presented by the Business and Industry Association; the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership, the New Hampshire High Technology Council and the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development.
Sugar Hill to the Franconia Range ~ Lorna Colquhoun/NHEconomy.com
About 8.5 million people are expected to visit New Hampshire this fall, according to our friends down the hall at the Division of Travel and Tourism Development. That’s an increase of about 5 percent over last fall and they are projected to spend $1.3 billion, up 7 percent over last year.
The fall season is historically the second busiest in New Hampshire, attracting more than 25 percent of all visitors to New Hampshire annually.
Most visitors will come here from the New England and mid-Atlantic markets, but thanks to low gas prices, expect to see an increase in overnight visits from more distant states, including Florida, California, Illinois and Texas.
Just in time for autumn, Visit New Hampshire launched a new foliage tracker aimed at helping visitors plan their peak adventure. The interactive, mobile-friendly tracker offers regional reports of New Hampshire’s stunning scenery, lodging and dining suggestions, points of interest around the state, and images from a network of leaf peepers.
Visitors can plan their New Hampshire Fall Adventure with help from VisitNH.gov. The Vacation Inspiration website has a guide to help get the most out of fall, including scenic drives, places to pick your own, a go-to guide for antiquing, and much more. Visitors are encouraged to share their New Hampshire fall foliage images with New Hampshire tourism on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, by using #nhfoliage.
Regional development corporations are located in each of New Hampshire’s 10 counties and are a valuable resource to businesses. RDCs are another layer of business assistance whose goal is to help companies thrive and prosper. can provide financing for machinery and equipment; business or real estate acquisitions; working capital; gap financing and other business assistance. Today’s 5 Questions’ guest is an old friend of the Division of Economic Development, where he worked for two years before heading up to Grafton County.
Chris Wellington ~ Grafton County EDC
1. Can you explain a bit about what the GCEDC does for the region, and your role within it?
Over the last five years, GCEDC has provided more than $2.9 million in financing to businesses throughout Grafton County, helping to retain more than 200 full-time jobs and creating 153 additional full-time jobs. All of our work is geared toward job retention and creation, and one of the best ways to create jobs is by supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Most of our initiatives supporting entrepreneurs and the small business community are run through our two business incubators, the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon and the Enterprise Center at Plymouth. GCEDC’s motto is Economic Development through Partnerships and we are very fortunate to partner with Plymouth State University at the ECP and Dartmouth College at the DRTC. Each institution brings so many resources to the table that can be leveraged for the benefit of the business community.
As the CEO of GCEDC, I am responsible for the day-to-day operations and strategic direction of the organization. It’s a very rewarding job where no day is ever the same.
2. You’ve worked in economic development for a number of years, and across many regions of the state. What is it about Grafton County that makes it uniquely attractive for businesses?
Grafton County has all the features and amenities needed for a company in any industry to succeed. The pharmaceutical, high tech and healthcare industries are thriving in the Upper Valley. Northern Grafton County has a strong and growing manufacturing base and the tourism industry reigns supreme in the Pemi Valley. Grafton County’s business landscape is very diverse and no matter what business you’re in, there’s a place for you in the county.
Grafton County is also home to Dartmouth College, Plymouth State University, River Valley Community College and White Mountain Community College, which provide unparalleled access to a skilled and educated workforce. This is all in addition to the county’s scenic beauty and the ability to truly play where you work.
3. You’ve been nominated for Young Professional of the Year for Stay Work Play’s Rising Stars Awards. How are young professionals playing a role in the success of Grafton County’s economy?
Young professionals are making a huge difference throughout the state of New Hampshire and especially in Grafton County. In northern Grafton County, you have young professionals like Lauren Anderson, executive director of the Littleton Area Chamber of Commerce and Courtney Wrigley of NH Listens transforming Littleton into a destination for young professionals.
In the Upper Valley, you have young professionals like Jamie Coughlin, director of entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College; Erikk Anderson, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Compass Therapeutics and Todd Boucher, founder of Leading Edge Design Group, building businesses, creating jobs and supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
And in the Pemi Valley area, you have PSU graduates Chad Johansen, owner of NH iPhone Repair, and Spirit Seeker, owner of Affirm Community Accounting, taking the leap into entrepreurship and building their businesses at the ECP. At every corner of Grafton County there are young professionals supporting the community and economy. I am very excited for the opportunity to work with these individuals and the many others who support our young professional community.
4. Putting yourself in the shoes of a business considering moving or expanding to Grafton County from out of state, what are two or three things they should consider, or for which they should plan, to make the transition easy? And how does the GCEDC help with those things?
I always encourage businesses to connect with local leadership and the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. Beno Lamontagne, Michael Bergeron and Cindy Harrington are excellent resources and can help a business in a number of ways, including helping them navigate through the permitting process at the state level. It is also critical to meet with local leaders to make sure you understand the process for operating a business in that particular community. I am fortunate to work in an area of the state where all the communities welcome businesses with open arms, which isn’t always the case in more urban communities.
GCEDC has played a role in helping a number of businesses move or expand into Grafton County and we can provide a wide range of services. Since we provide financing options, we can work with the business to help them access the capital they need to expand. The recruitment and retention of a business is a team effort and GCEDC can’t act alone and be successful when assisting a business looking to relocate or expand. Each business’ needs are different and we would find out what those needs are and with the assistance of our partners, develop a plan that’s unique to those needs so their chances of success are greatly increased.
5. What’s new or exciting on the horizon for GCEDC?
Change is the only constant. Like in business, if you are not moving forward, you are moving backwards and GCEDC is moving forward with force. My predecessor, Mark Scarano, left the organization in a very strong place and my goal is to build on that foundation and provide a greater array of services to municipalities and our small business community.
I am really excited to share that we will soon be undertaking a rebranding effort that includes a new logo and redesigned website. We will also be creating a monthly newsletter to stay more connected to our stakeholders. We can’t help a business if they don’t know about the services we provide. If we can increase our profile throughout Grafton County we will be able to help support more businesses, which is what it’s all about.
Connect with Chris Wellington:
or toll free at
(Entrepreneur Steve Case announced his latest Rise of the Rest bus tour on Aug. 3 at the White House. His blog from that event is reprinted with permission below.Information about making your pitch (deadline is Sunday!) and to be in the audience during the competition follow the blog. -Ed)
From the White House: Announcing the Next Rise of the Rest Bus Tour
by Steve Case
Typically the White House’s East Room is reserved for presidential addresses or official state ceremonies. But today it will be bustling with entrepreneurs from all across the U.S. showcasing their startups to the president, senior officials, investors and many others.
I’m delighted to attend the first ever White House Demo Day and gratified to see the country recognizing the role entrepreneurs have played – and will continue to pay – in helping to build America and ensuring it has a bright future. And it is great to see the President lead an effort to level the playing field, so any entrepreneur, anywhere, can have a shot at being part of the American dream.
Speaking of any entrepreneur, anywhere: among the talented founders honored at the White House and chosen to exhibit their startups today are previous Rise of the Rest winners Jewel Burks and Jason Crain of Partpic – based in Atlanta, and Mindy Taylor and Sam Staley of Bidr – based in Charleston.
Our team is using the occasion to commit to visiting 10 more Rise of the Rest cities and investing an additional $1 million in startups, (including):
• Manchester, NH on Oct. 1
During day-long visits to these rising startup cities, we’ll meet with local entrepreneurs, businesses, non-profits, universities, and public officials to discuss the opportunities and challenges of fostering startup growth.
At a pitch competition open to the public in each city, a local startup will receive a $100,000 investment. And we’ll cap things off with a happy hour celebration.
In 2016, the Rise of the Rest tour will visit five more cities in the western part of the U.S.
At Revolution, we’ve seen firsthand how technological advances, public policy changes, and the growing awareness about the critical importance of entrepreneurship have lowered barriers to entry for startups. In June the Revolution Growth fund made its largest investment to date in Shinola, based in Detroit. A Revolution Ventures portfolio company based in Baltimore, OrderUp, was recently purchased by Groupon – a huge win for the Baltimore startup ecosystem.
(For more recent, trends on the geographic diversity of startup activity, see here.)
As we hit the road in late September and early October, I look forward to discussing how Baltimore is much more than just a port city, but an emerging, Mid-Atlantic startup hub with innovative minds especially in defense, research, health, and technology.
How Philadelphia – which launched the most successful startup in history (the United States) – continues to develop its talented base of 101 colleges and universities to encourage a diverse group of millennials, an engaged local and state government, as well as its established corporations, to take part in the startup economy.
How Buffalo and Western New York – once one of the country’s great manufacturing centers – continues to come back through the concentration of biomedical expertise, advanced production industries, tourism, and strong backing from government including through the Buffalo Billion Initiative.
How Manchester and Hanover – once home to the largest mill yards in the world – continue to transform New Hampshire into the Live Free and Startstate, leveraging the international talent stream of Dartmouth College and other schools to craft technologies built around software and life sciences, and create an emerging innovation hub between Boston and Montreal.
And how Portland’s continued effort to build upon one of the country’s most authentic buy-local movements, a highly educated population, and a strong tourism base is creating a startup ecosystem rich with doers, innovators, and new businesses in the northeast.
After logging 3,000 miles and investing $1.5 million in startups during previous tours, we are excited to fire up the bus again and head north. Joining Revolution on the next tour as partners, in addition to Google for Entrepreneurs and Salesforce for Startups, are Engine, Seed Here Studio, Tech Cocktail, Startup Grind, and Village Capital.
Interested in applying to pitch and or attend the celebration in Manchester during the upcoming tour? Visit www.riseofrest.com to register.
If you are interested in pitching your startup for a $100,000 investment from legendary entrepreneur Steve Case on 10/1, during the nationwide Rise of the Rest tour through Manchester, start your application today.The application deadline is Sunday 9/13 at 11.59pm EST.
RSVP hereto attend the post competition celebration.
Seven projects, which will spur economic and community development in northern New Hampshire, will receive grants from the Northern Border Regional Commission, according to Gov. Maggie Hassan and U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen.
Totaling $1,150,716, the seven grants will be awarded to the Franconia Ski Club and state-owned Cannon Mountain Ski Area; the town of Northumberland; the New Hampshire Department of Transportation; TwinState MakerSpace Inc.; River Valley Community College; the Grafton County Economic Development Council and Plymouth State University.
“The Northern Border Regional Commission is a critical regional collaboration that has a strong tradition of supporting economic and community development in some of our most economically distressed areas,” Hassan said. “Each of these projects will promote business development, job creation and economic growth across the North Country by addressing infrastructure and transportation needs, boosting our travel and tourism industry, supporting entrepreneurs and strengthening workforce development efforts. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners across the region and at the federal level to keep New Hampshire’s economy moving in the right direction.”
“Today’s announcement is great news for job creation and the economy in northern New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “These seven projects will support small business growth while addressing important infrastructure needs that are crucial for economic development in the North Country. These grants, and the Northern Border Regional Commission’s continued work, are helping to rejuvenate North Country communities and businesses that have faced significant economic challenges.”
Of the slate of approved grants, a joint application by the Franconia Ski Club and the state-owned Cannon Mountain Ski Area was selected for a $150,716 grant that will help upgrade the new Mittersill alpine ski racing and training slopes as well as install complementary snow making machines. When completed, the Mittersill project will significantly increase the capacity of Cannon Mountain to host ski race training and draw athletes from throughout the eastern United States.
The commission approved a $250,000 grant for the town of Northumberland to help fund municipally owned water and wastewater lines to the former Groveton paper mill site; a property now owned by a private developer seeking to prepare the site for continued industrial investment.
The Department of Transporation will receive $250,000 to relocate a maintenance shed in Dixville Notch, immediately adjacent to the proposed Balsams Resort development project. Relocation of the shed is part of $100 million in private investment that will significantly upgrade the Balsam’s property into a four seasons destination resort and create up to 1,7000 new jobs in Coos County.
The TwinState MakerSpace Inc’s application was approved for $250,000. The organization will use the grant to partially fund the purchase and renovation of downtown Claremont’s derelict sawtooth building into productive space that will support entrepreneurs in the science, technology, engineering, math and artistic fields.
River Valley Community College was awarded $150,000 to construct improvements to the former Lebanon College. The college’s purchase and renovation of the space will enable downtown Lebanon, to maintain an education presence and to build customized training opportunities for the Upper Valley’s nascent technology sector.
The Grafton County Economic Development Council will use $45,000 in NBRC funds to construct a second story pedestrian bridge that will link the two separated business incubator buildings that it owns in Lebanon with North Country Council in partnership with Dartmouth College’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer.
Plymouth State University and partners will receive $55,000 to capitalize their Bienvenue New Hampshire program that provides French translation, marketing, educational opportunities and bilingual support for front line hospitality organizations in Sullivan, Grafton, Coos and Carroll counties.
Created by the US Congress in 2008, the NBRC is a federal-state partnership whose mission is to help alleviate economic distress and encourage private sector job creation throughout the northern counties of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. In its short five-year history, the NBRC has awarded seventy-five grants amounting over $14.2 million.
September is the month when the kids go back to school, the calendar kicks over to fall and no matter how old you are, the conditioning of our minds over all the years of grammar, middle and high school and college puts us in learning mode.
So it may be a good time for your employees to go back to the classroom and learn about latest processes and technology that will keep your business competitive. The New Hampshire Job Training Fund is open to businesses located in New Hampshire and businesses intending to locate here, and who pay quarterly taxes into the state’s Unemployment Trust Fund.
Businesses large and small have received grants and yours can, too.
It’s worth a few moments to see how it helped Destefano Architects of Portsmouth and then give us a call today.