HAPPY THANKSGIVING from your friends at NH Economy!
Archive for November, 2015
What was all the excitement about in Dover last week? The groundbreaking for the new Rand-Whitney container facility at the Stonewall Industrial Park – all 118,600-square-feet of it.
(We love groundbreakings.)
Taking part in the groundbreaking were local officials and representatives of PROCON of Manchester and Rand-Whitney of Portsmouth. Rand-Whitney is a household name, known for pioneering innovative and environmentally-friendly corrugated packaging for nearly 80 years. PROCON is the designer and construction manager celebrating 80 years and Summit Land Development of Dover is the developer.
The new address in Dover ends years of searching by Rand-Whitney for a location for its new facility, which is now located at the junction of Route 108 and the Spaulding Turnpike.
When the decision was made to construct a new plant to house its massive operations, Dover’s business friendly environment was a big factor.
“Rand Whitney’s long history in this city and our relationship with PROCON made it a good match,” said Daniel Barufaldi, the city’s economic development director. “It was a true team effort – everyone worked together to move the project forward quickly. They are back where they started, and that’s a wonderful thing.”
Adds Mayor Karen Weston, “Our goal as a city has been to increase economic development and this is such a huge boost to our economy. We are already seeing the economic benefits of having Rand-Whitney here.”
For more information about expanding in or relocating your business to New Hampshire, hop over to our website.
Rich Grogan has been on the run since early last spring, when he became the state director for the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, a job to which he brings experience and enthusiasm. It’s always good to catch up with him and especially for small business owners here in New Hampshire, he and the SBDC are great resources about which you should know.
1. Congratulations on becoming state director of the NH SBDC! You’ve been in the position for over six months now – what’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned in that time?
Thank you! I’m thrilled to be in my new role, and I’m fortunate to take over for Mary Collins, who left us in a very strong position. She is missed by everyone I meet, but knowing Mary, she’ll continue to work on her many passions around the state going forward.
With respect to surprises, I knew our staff was outstanding but I had no idea how dedicated they are every day to work on behalf of New Hampshire’s businesses. Everyone has been eager for collaboration to build businesses in New Hampshire. I was also surprised at the strength of our National ASBDC network. Other state directors in particular are willing and eager to reach out and support new folks coming into these positions; that has been helpful and appreciated.
Finally, I knew our reputation was strong in the Monadnock Region, where I worked as part of the SBDC at Keene State College, but I was thrilled to find that this reputation extends throughout the state.
2. You’re a North Carolina native who first joined the New Hampshire SBDC as the Keene regional manager three years ago. What do you find particularly compelling about New Hampshire, as it pertains to small business success?
I’m from Winston-Salem, which was hollowed out in the 1980s by the loss of Wachovia Bank, textiles, furniture manufacturing, and rounds of layoffs at the City’s largest corporation, RJ Reynolds Tobacco. What I witnessed as I spent time in the city during college, and visiting since, is the power of small businesses to slowly bring an economy back; Winston-Salem is now roaring. That foundation has propelled me into my current work.
What I find distinct about New Hampshire is the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in everyone, and I mean truly everyone. In my role at Keene State, I met people with very full time jobs who had something they were designing on the side, or a plan to become a consultant utilizing their corporate skills, or similar. This is just amazing to me – we have so much talent across all demographics in New Hampshire that is just waiting to be unleashed!
One of the reasons I love my job now is that as soon as I say what I do, people want to talk to me about their business ideas; they could be 30 or 80, and they are still thinking and working on a better way to do something, a better process, or a business model that they think could work. It opens up a completely different conversation than we otherwise would have had – such an interesting way to be in the world.
Thanks for highlighting the cooperative nature of our program. Many people don’t realize that we are hosted by the Paul College at the University of New Hampshire and are a cooperative venture of SBA and DRED. I personally think that having all of these as invested stakeholders makes our program stronger, and we get to be a part of multiple teams, all working for the betterment and growth of New Hampshire’s economy.
What we do for businesses as SBDC is really get under the hood with clients, working right beside them over a long-term horizon on all aspects of their business. This includes business plans, preparing to seek capital, building an accounting system, setting a marketing strategy, determining when to hire additional employees, etc. Our suite of services is broad, which means that our staff has to be agile and have multiple threads of intelligence to be able to tackle all of these subjects. The best part is, our services are of no cost to the business owner!
We work a little differently with SBA than with DRED. We are funded through SBA at the federal level, and are an official resource partner. This links us into a network of other SBA resource partners, and allows us to collaborate in ways that are mutually beneficial. For example, the SBA organizes commercial lender roundtables across the state, which helps the SBA understand the lending environment and helps us to understand how we can better serve businesses in a given region. We also share information, work to recognize outstanding businesses, and collaborate on events, such as the upcoming Small Business Matchmaker in December.
The Matchmaker is a good segue to our relationship with DRED, as PTAP (Procurement Technical Assistance Program for government contracting support) is also a partner in that event. This three-way partnership is also a good example, I think, of the difference in New Hampshire … we are so collaborative here.
DRED is also a funding partner, and we work closely with the Division of Economic Development’s resource specialists in the field. The resource specialists are experts at the resources the State of New Hampshire can bring to bear to assist small business growth, and often they will bring the SBDC in to provide technical assistance as part of a broader project to help a business succeed. I like to think that SBDC’s expertise is also a selling point for DRED’s efforts to recruit businesses into the state. We also refer clients to DED who need assistance with understanding statewide resources as a complement to our technical advising. Of course, we love interacting with our DRED colleagues throughout the organization, but we are certainly most closely in sync with DED.
I am going to use my answer to this question to shamelessly plug our new website, which went live a couple of weeks ago. The site has clear links to our ongoing catalog of client stories, which highlight the kind of successes about which you asked. One of the wonderful things about our organization is that we work with an incredibly wide range of businesses, so our successes range from manufacturers in the North Country to technology firms in Nashua, and everything and everywhere in between. It is most interesting for me to see us work with, for example, an anchor employer in a community, as I did in Keene, and also work with a retailer that may sell that company’s products in the same town. It’s like getting a glimpse into a rich picture of the diversity of a local economy.
I also want to say a bit about what success means to us. For SBDC, since we work with clients for such a long time, many of our individual days don’t end with a huge splash. Rather, it is victory to see a client get some traction on their marketing plan, start up successfully with a strong foundation, access capital they have been working towards for several months, or any number of similar moves forward. These don’t always create big headlines, but they are cumulative … they are the nuts and bolts of building, sustaining, and growing a small business, and it takes an approach like the SBDC’s to eventually get to that big headline.
We are always moving forward at the SBDC and we’ll only be amplifying that culture moving forward. This has been an internally-focused year for us because of a leadership transition (me), a couple of new hires, and our national accreditation this month, which builds continuous improvement into our program. In the coming year, our stakeholders and clients across the state will see the introduction of new e-learning courses, more resources in the field, and a new look and feel for SBDC. As a staff, we’ll be working on a new strategic plan in the first half of 2016, about which I’m very excited. I want us to transition to a short, nimble plan that we can all own and deploy, and that is integrated with the outstanding work that our partners are doing, such as DRED and SBA. Stay tuned!
Like other businesses, the federal government has products and services it needs to operate, but unlike the private sector, there are processes unique to government contracting that must be followed to secure Uncle Sam as a customer.
The upcoming New Hampshire Small Business Matchmaker on Dec. 4 at Manchester Community College is a great opportunity for businesses across the state to meet with federal agencies and prime contractors about solutions to meet their needs, including BAE Systems, the New Hampshire National Guard, and the US Army Corps of Engineers and 20 other exhibitors. The matchmaker is sponsored by the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program, the Small Business Development Center and the SBA. The cost is $50 per person.
“The matchmaker event is significant because it’s where businesses can meet with decision makers to talk about their products,” said Dave Pease, program manager for NH PTAP. “The matchmaker is a rare opportunity to meet with prime contractors in one place, in one day.”
To make the most of the matchmaker, several seminars will be held this month to help businesses prepare.
Making the Most of the New Hampshire Small Business Matchmaker will be held both days from 9:30 to 11 am Nov. 17 and 18 at the Department of Resources and Economic Development, 172 Pembroke Rd., Concord.
Matchmaker training includes what to expect and how to prepare for the event, as well as capabilities statement coaching, one of the most important marketing pieces needed for a successful event.
Life after the Matchmaker is the follow up seminar from 9 to 11:30 am, Dec. 8 at the Department of Resources and Economic Development. It will focus on the connections made at the matchmaker and how to build and maintain those relationships.
For more information about government contracting, visit our website or contact Deborah Avery at 271-7581.
New Hampshire’s seasonal welcome and information centers in Colebrook, Lebanon and Littleton will reopen for the winter season under a pilot project between the New Hampshire Department of Economic Development’s Bureau of Visitor Services and the Department of Transportation. The three sites will be open 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday through Monday, Dec. 17 to March 21.
“The winter season is a very important time for our tourism industry,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Rose. “Last year, more than 7 million people visited the state during the winter months, spending more than $1.1 billion. The gateway location of these facilities provides us the opportunity to welcome visitors to the state.”
While this is a pilot for this winter, the agency will be collecting information and assessing the needs of the traveling public for the winter months.
“Interstates 93 and 89, as well as US Route 3, are major entry points in the northern and western parts of New Hampshire,” said NHDOT Commissioner Victoria Sheehan. “Through the cooperative efforts of DRED and the DOT, motorists will have more options this winter for taking a break during their travels.”
The seasonal WIC’s have been closed during the winter months since 2011. However, the latest state budget has funds allocated to support expanding winter operations.
At the midway point of this week’s Dubai Air Show, the Office of International Commerce and three businesses taking part at this large, regional trade event, report busy days of making connections that would have been difficult to make on their own.
“The best part is the meetings that the state had setup for AQYR and the leads that I had going into the show,” said Mark Wheeler of AQYR, located in Hollis.
For Paul Jensen of HALO Maritime Defense System in Newton, “We have had a lot of activity and also the chance to catch up with many friends and partners in the region. Great location.”
The air show runs through Friday.
Exporting is an important component to the New Hampshire economy and there are several resources in the state standing by to work with companies interested in expanding their customer base into global markets. We’ve said it before (so we’ll say it again!): New Hampshire companies and manufacturers, even the smallest ones, have products and services in demand overseas. Justin Oslowski, director of the New Hampshire Export Assistance Center, works closely with our Office of International Commerce to help these companies fulfill their export goals. By the way, he’ll be at the Dubai Air Show with our Tina Kasim next week, promoting the state’s robust aerospace and defense industries at one of the largest industry trade show in the region.
1. What unique characteristics make New Hampshire companies successful in international business?
Having worked in several U.S. states, I’m genuinely impressed by the range of cutting edge products and services offered by New Hampshire’s business community. In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, these are the offerings that international buyers are particularly keen to purchase, so the demand is there.
What’s unique about New Hampshire companies is that they recognize the need to tap into this international demand. U.S. companies, for varied reasons, often don’t make the commitment to international business development and potentially sacrifice a critical revenue stream as a result. That’s rare in New Hampshire, so it speaks to the understanding and usefulness of exporting to sustain business growth and job creation in the state.
2. How does the New Hampshire Export Assistance Center work together/complement the New Hampshire Office of International Commerce?
Our partnership with the State of New Hampshire’s Office of International Commerce is highly synergistic. The state is one of our most important clients, as my office is often called upon to execute many of the state’s initiatives, from trade missions to trade shows and across a wide range of international business development needs.
At an individual client level, the state often counsels the client, provides preliminary market research and identifies potential markets. They also make that critical introduction of the client to my office, and we help to execute the client’s international business plan through our network of U.S. Commercial Service offices located in U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe. We also strategize and partner on the best way to use limited international development resources.
The Export Expansion Fund, in partnership with The Provident Bank and the Granite State District Export Council, and the State’s matching grants, are two practical and effective programs that were created by the partnership.
3. For a company that’s never exported anything before, what are a few of the most important things that a company would need to do in preparation for exporting its products?
The basic message I’d share is that any New Hampshire company is not alone when it comes to exporting. We have a formal referral protocol in the state under the umbrella of the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Network. We can quickly assess where a client is in the international business development process, and bring colleagues from the Small Business Administration, the Small Business Development Centers, the State, my office or even partners at SCORE, Ex-Im Bank or the Granite State District Export Council into the discussion.
We’ll work with the client to identify what their particular needs are before approaching international markets, and ensure that they are well prepared to achieve their objectives. I would strongly suggest that a client never go it alone. We want to encourage international business and exporting, but there are nuances that we can help each client understand and minimize the learning curve.
4. Can you share a success story or two to provide concrete examples of how the NH EAC supports businesses in the state?
There are many great stories to share, but two more recent examples would be stories like Hydrocomp in Durham and Geophysical Survey Systems in Nashua. In each case, the clients took advantage of the market knowledge and services of my office, and the financial resources being offered through the State of New Hampshire’s matching grants and the Export Expansion Fund.
Hydrocomp used funding to vet and identify potential business partners in Asia, while GSSI relaunched its line of products in Taiwan by using our office to conduct a Single Company Promotion, to educate potential end-users in market. Our clients are savvy, and they used all of the resources available to them.
5. What does the NH EAC have coming up that’s new, exciting, or otherwise of particular interest to New Hampshire businesses?
In addition to our first foray into the Middle East aerospace market by attending the Dubai Air Show next week, the state recently announced the availability of a $5,000 matching grant for New Hampshire exporters available through its State Trade Export Promotion grant. The application deadline is today (Nov. 6) and we’d like to see as many New Hampshire clients use the program as possible.
We also recently announced our second round of funding available via the Export Expansion Fund with The Provident Bank and the Granite State District Export Council. Although the focus of the EEF is a little narrower than the matching grants, we want to see companies take advantage of both programs to help build their export business.
The Dubai Air Show begins Sunday, but we got a sneak peek at USA Stand 1856 this morning, thanks to Paul Jensen of HALO Maritime Defense Systems.
New Hampshire is one of six states exhibiting at the show for the first time. Through a State Trade Export Promotion grant, the Office of International Commerce, joined by HALO, AQYR and Transupport, will showcase the state’s growing aerospace and defense industries.
A Dubai businessman this morning called our attention to an article about the show:
“This trade show also catches the attention of international media from over 1,000 different global outlets. Today it is the largest air show in the world and it provides an access to a large number of provincial markets of decision makers and is a successful trade show in the international aerospace calendar.”
Looks like a good place to be next week.
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