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5 Questions with Pamela Laflamme, Community Development Director, City of Berlin

We’re taking our 5 Questions to the North Country this morning and chatting with Pamela Laflamme, community development director for the City of Berlin. She is an ideal fit for that position – this is where she grew up and where she returned. Over the past 15 years, with the demise of its paper industry, Berlin has been evolving, creating new opportunities for small businesses attracted to the beauty of the area and the quality of life.

Laflamme

Pamela Laflamme ~ Community Development Director, Berlin

1. Can you explain a bit about what BIDPA does for Berlin and surrounding communities, and your role within BIDPA?

The Berlin Industrial Development and Park Authority, by state statute, was created under RSA 162-G along with the City of Keene. BIDPA works with local businesses to grow and retain jobs. It also works with developers looking to locate or relocate to the community.

BIDPA is group of volunteers that serve the city as an enterprise fund of the municipality. I provide staff assistance to the board, along with our city manager, Jim Wheeler. BIDPA works on projects alone as well as with other partners throughout the region and the state.

2. You’ve been the community development director in Berlin for 15 years. What is it about the area that makes it particularly attractive for businesses?

The city works hard with businesses to help them succeed. Berlin has a long history with manufacturing and while that sector has seen a lot of decline over the last decade, smaller businesses have come to the community to take advantage of that workforce. We live in a beautiful part of the state, surrounded by numerous recreational opportunities. Being able to finish your work day and get out to do some fishing, skiing, hiking or ATVing within a few miles of your workplace is very appealing to those who enjoy the outdoors. Hard workers, a dedicated group of city councilors, BIDPA members and the accessibility of the outdoors are just a few reasons to live, work and play in our area.

3. Berlin was named the 2015 City on the Rise  by New Hampshire Magazine. Can you share highlights of  business projects  contributing to Berlin’s improvement?

The City on the Rise recognition was a welcome surprise to the community. The Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street program are extremely active, with hard working volunteers who create several highly successful events every year, including the very popular RiverFire, Jericho ATV Festival and Brewtopia.

The Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network opened a second location this summer in downtown, bringing a lot of activity to Berlin. We have been working with developers to reuse old school buildings, and they are providing quality housing options to seniors and residents of low and moderate income, cleaning up our neighborhoods. The city has been working diligently over the last decade to rebuild the local economy and provide more job diversity. The City on the Rise award tells us that other people are noticing our hard work.

4. Putting yourself in the shoes of a business considering moving or expanding to Berlin from out of state, what are the most important things it should plan for to make the transition easy and how does BIDPA help?

BIDPA works hard with developers to make their transition as painless as possible. We recently helped a company from Massachusetts establish a second location in our industrial park. Our chairman, Mike Caron, a local businessman himself, worked closely with the company’s owner to help him connect with the programs and organizations that could assist in setting up the new location. We connected them with the local office of Employment Security to help screen applicants, brought them to the regional economic development organizations to assist with funding, and we are happy to report our support has paid off with a successful Community Development Block Grant project with Coos Economic Development Corp. and several new jobs that will put displaced manufacturing employees back to work.

Chairman Caron is dogged in his work to make sure those who want to locate here are able to do so with as little hassle as possible.

5. What’s coming up for BIDPA?

BIDPA has several projects in the works that are in the early development stages, so it is too soon to discuss them publicly. The board is optimistic and they are looking forward to a productive 2016; check back with us next year!

 

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