Archive for June, 2011
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Whether it’s a wedding, a concert, a business conference, non-profit fundraiser or a political rally, anyone who’s ever tried to plan an event in the New Hampshire seacoast can tell you that there aren’t a lot of venue options.
Rivermill at Dover Landing is a state-of-the-art facility perfect for weddings, corporate events, non-profit fundraisers, bar/bat-mitzvahs and political events. Photo by Patrick McNamara
This simple fact provided the impetus for five young entrepreneurs to open Rivermill at Dover Landing, an artfully restored, historic mill space located in the heart of downtown Dover, with the capacity to seat over 350 guests.
Partners Kirt Schuman, Aaron Wensley and Michelle Clancy met while working at the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce. There, they were tasked with planning and executing a wide variety of events, both public and private.
“Every time we had to do something involving more than 130 people,” remembers Kirt, “we either had to hold the event at the Elks Hall the Ice Arena or take it out of Dover, and even then, there was only a small handful of places to choose from that were within a reasonable distance. There just weren’t many spaces that were large enough.”
The trio made do with what was available until a few Chamber members voiced their discontent with the Chamber’s Annual Awards Dinner – an event at which Dover’s Business and Citizen of the Year are recognized – being held outside the city limits. At that point, addressing the issue became a priority.
“We decided that if there wasn’t an existing facility, that maybe we could be creative and make something out of nothing,” recalls Aaron. “We looked at a bunch of unoccupied and unused spaces around the area – church basements, vacant retail spaces – nothing seemed to work.”
“As a non-profit organization, we had a very tight event budget to work with,” adds Michelle, “so we couldn’t afford to fix broken plumbing or leaky roofs. We were prepared to work hard to convert the right space, but we had to do it on the skinny.”
That was when they looked at the space in the historic Picker Building, located behind the Washington Street Mills Complex in downtown Dover, which many residents remember as the Clarostat building.
“As soon as we entered the space, we knew it was going to work,” recalls Kirt. It smelled, it was filthy, and it was full of leaky pipes and random odds and ends, but as a realtor might say, it had ‘good bones.’”
Good enough that they decided to hold the event there, and so began the process of readying the space.
“The more time we spent there, cleaning and discussing how to lay out the room, the more we realized what a gem this riverside space really was,” says Aaron.
They were soon joined in that realization by a throng of local business leaders who attended the sold out Awards Dinner. Michelle remembers their reactions vividly.
“One after another, people came to us saying ‘Wow. This is really a fantastic space. Someone should do something with this.’ Of course, we had been having that conversation all along, and had already begun to bat around the idea that maybe we should actually make a go of it. The compliments we received during and after the Awards Dinner made it clear to us that this was something we wanted to do. The success of that one function put us over the top.”
One year later, almost to the day of that fateful event, Rivermill at Dover Landing opened its doors to the public for the first time. The original trio, along with Schuman’s wife, Britt, and Clancy’s husband, Tom, hit the ground running, hosting three events in their first week in business.
The first was an Open House to celebrate the opening of the facility, at which over 300 guests enjoyed nearly every creature comfort imaginable, including valet parking, ice sculptures, designer table settings and florals, live music and even a whimsical photo booth. The high-end services and accoutrements were provided by a host of preferred vendors that the group shrewdly teamed up with right out of the gate, people like ace wedding planner Kate Parker of Kate Parker Weddings, and award-winning chef Evan Hennessey of 100 Club, Cava and Dunanway fame, who now owns the trend-setting, Dover-based catering company Flavor Concepts.
“We wanted to create a buzz, and to show people the possibilities that the space creates, so we went all out,” notes Tom, who brings years of web development experience and technological expertise to the Rivermill table.
Next up was a Valentine’s Dance featuring live music performed by The Spectras, one of the seacoast area’s most storied and well-traveled bands, who shared the stage with the Beach Boys during their glory days. Intimate cabaret tables and a sprawling dance floor set the stage for an evening of reminiscing and romantic fun, a throwback to an age gone by that saw most of the women in attendance holding their shoes in their hands by the end of the evening.
Rivermill’s first-ever wedding reception came just a few days later, and once again, the space earned rave reviews, not just from the bride, the groom and their guests, but also from the various vendors who fed, photographed and entertained them.
“This is truly an incredible space,” acknowledges Emil Uliano, general manager of Seacoast Catering, who had the privilege of being the first to cater a Rivermill reception. “Somehow they managed to make it contemporary and chic without losing the historic appeal that makes it so special. They blended just the right amount of old and new. I love doing events here.”
Interestingly, Seacoast is one of four preferred caterers, along with Flavor Concepts, Galley Hatch and Kelley’s Row, all with unique strengths and specialties, that guests can use at Rivermill, an option seldom found at wedding facilities, and almost never at places one would consider upscale. It’s all part of the plan.
“One of the first things we discussed was flexibility,” says Britt. “So many places dictate to their brides which vendors they can and cannot use, and even go as far as to tell how much money they have to spend. Our feeling is that it’s the bride and groom’s day. It’s about their vision, not about the space, so if they want a particular caterer, or want an aunt to make the cake, then that’s exactly what we want them to have.”
It’s a formula that seems to be resonating with brides-to-be, as the group has already sold out several months in 2012, and has interest well into 2013. This July they hosted four weddings, and they have four more in August. For a company in the business of hosting events, four weddings in a month seems remarkably unremarkable – until you consider that they only opened their doors six months ago.
“Every time we show the space to a new bride, you can literally see this genuine sense of relief come over them when they learn that we’re on their side,” comments Michelle, who, along with Britt, handles the front end of the sales process.
“For the ones who’ve been to a lot of places and have really been beaten down with the restrictions and the rules and the minimums, the reaction is often something more like disbelief, at first. But the fact of the matter is that we want them to have it their way, and the response to that approach has been better than we could ever have imagined.”
From the outside, such mercurial success often looks easy, but like any start-up, Rivermill’s early winnings have not come without some challenges. In true entrepreneurial fashion, however, the ownership team has creatively maneuvered around each obstacle. Their innovative, can-do approach was tested early on, when they set out to design their first brochures and web pages.
“We didn’t have any pictures,” laughs Kirt, “so we staged a mock wedding in the half of the room that wasn’t under construction. The photos came out so beautifully that we still use many of them, even though we have plenty of ‘real’ wedding photos at our disposal now.”
Wedding bookings are certainly the focus for nearly any upscale event space, and Rivermill is no different. Still, they plan to host a variety of other functions as well, and are already in the process of planning several concerts, holiday parties and other corporate events. As the field of 2012 Presidential hopefuls is defined, the group also anticipates hosting political rallies and fundraisers for the candidates as they vie for votes in the all-important New Hampshire Primary election.
“Part of what we set out to do is to provide the seacoast area with something we felt was lacking,” muses Kirt. “We want the weddings, of course, but we also want to be something more. We want to provide the community with a place that will also serve businesses and charitable organizations – trade shows, fundraisers, graduations, reunions – you name it. This is something that Dover has been missing for a long time, and we hope that everyone will be able to enjoy it in one manner or another.”
“Pretty much every business professor I ever had said the same thing,” agrees Aaron, who earned an MBA in Marketing from UNH’s Whittemore School. “’Find something people need, and then give it to them.’ So that’s exactly what we did.”
Judging from Rivermill’s explosion onto the seacoast event scene, the ownership team certainly appears to have identified a significant void in the market, and so far, they’ve done an extraordinary job of filling it. You can learn more at www.rivermillnh.com.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Service Specialist Christine Davis
I decided to shake things up a bit this week and instead of answering reader’s business questions, I have a question for businesses.
Q: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a crisis or natural disaster?
I was home with my youngest daughter, Emma, a few days back as she had a sore throat. Since I was going to be in Exeter all day, I decided to be proactive and see if we could get teeth cleaning / checks moved to that day too. Lucky for me they had some cancellations and the girls and I headed over.
I like to think I am the type of person who is prepared and stays ahead of the game. Apparently, I’m not. I had a strong suspicion that one or two of my fillings were cracked as I had been having some sensitivity for a while and sure enough I was right. Not only were the fillings cracked, but the teeth they resided in were cracked as well. My dentist had told me a long time ago that I needed a mouth guard as I grind my teeth at night (stress rears its ugly head in so many different ways). I didn’t want to believe it was really that big of a deal and so I didn’t take a simple precaution that I now know would have saved me at least $2,000.00. It was preventable.
I am sharing this little story about my foolishness because as I was driving back from attending the “When Disaster Strikes-Business Continuity Workshop,” I started thinking about how easy it is to prevent a disaster in both our personal and business lives yet we often take foolish risks and hope for the best. The session I attended is part of a series of free half-day workshops that go over the steps a business should take now to keep their business up and running in the event of a disaster.
I admit that I did not have a plan in place when I was running the Women’s Business Center in Portsmouth. When the water heater let loose one night, we weren’t prepared. The only reason we didn’t end up in a really bad place was sheer luck. If it had happened on a Saturday night, we would have had to shut down operations for much longer than I would like to admit. Counting on luck in your business isn’t a great plan.
Fortunately there is a second workshop that is taking place on Thursday, June 30th in Rochester for anyone who is able to attend. For those who cannot, I wanted to share some of the resources and tips that I learned today.
First of all, I quickly learned that “disasters” aren’t limited to floods, ice and tornados. Interruptions in your supply chain, cyber security breaches and workplace violence are all forms of man-made disasters that affect businesses.
The many different faces of disasters have pretty ugly results as well. It was noted the 40-60% of small businesses do not survive a disaster. In the past five years, over 1,300 businesses reached out to the NH Division of Economic Development, www.nheconomy.com, in response to disaster related issues. I wonder how much of that could have been prevented by better planning?
Jeannette McDonald of Cogent Solutions LLC. in Portsmouth, referenced a list of questions that she pulled from a great website, www.ready.gov. The site is loaded with good simple information that covers business continuity issues. The following questions and suggestions are a great start to getting your business prepared for any natural or man-made interruption:
1. What are your potential risks?
2. Assess your critical business functions
3. Can you depend on your supply chain?
4. Create an emergency management plan
5. Where is your back-up data stored?
6. Create a crisis communication plan and include social media
7. Can my business survive for more than a few days?
8. What is my insurance coverage? Do I have business interruption coverage?
9. Where else can I run my business?
10. Create, communicate, practice, reevaluate again and again
These topics were expanded upon in the discussions throughout the morning event and were touched upon by industry experts from Homeland Security, Fire and EMS, Social Media, Public and Media Relations and the Small Business Administration. No matter what size your business happens to be, it is so important that you are prepared for any number of disasters. Investing a few hours of your time to create an emergency management plan could not only save you thousands of dollars but could potentially save your business.
Other online resources include www.preparemybusiness.org, and www.sba.gov. The next workshop for “When Disaster Strikes” is Thursday June 30, 8:00 am – 12:00 pm in Conference Room 1A at the Rochester Community Center, 150 Wakefield St, Rochester, NH. There is no charge to attend. For more information and to register, visit: http://strafford-disaster-eorg.eventbrite.com/ Registration isn’t required to attend.
Christine J. Davis works for the N.H. Division of Economic Development as a resource specialist serving businesses in Rockingham and Strafford counties. Her role is to provide the support needed for businesses so that they may remain viable and growing entities in the community. Ms. Davis lives in Exeter with her two daughters. When not performing her work or parenting duties she likes to spend time outdoors and discovering news places and activities in the community with her girls. She can be reached at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
In just four years the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Patriot Express Pilot Loan Guarantee Initiative has provided more than $633 million in SBA-guaranteed loans to 7,650 veterans to start or expand their small businesses.
Patriot Express, a pilot loan product, with streamlined paperwork, and based on the agency’s SBA Express program, offers an enhanced guaranty and interest rate on loans to small businesses owned by veterans, reservists and their spouses.
“As Independence Day arrives it is only natural for us to reflect on America’s veterans – men and women who have the leadership skills and experience to become successful entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “The impact of this program the last four years has meant thousands of veterans and their families have had the resources to pursue their dreams as entrepreneurs, and at the same time create jobs and drive economic growth at a critical time for our country.”
Patriot Express was launched June 28, 2007, to expand upon the more than $1 billion in loans SBA guarantees annually for veteran-owned businesses across all its loan programs. SBA also offers counseling assistance and procurement support each year to more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard and their spouses.
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Check out this great awards program that we’re partnering on with our friends at Business NH Magazine and Stay Work Play – submit your nominations today!!
Recognize NH’s Rising Stars!!
The Details: Are you a star or do you know a young professional who is? If so, we want to feature that person in Business NH Magazine. We’re looking for nominees for the second annual Rising Stars awards. The awards recognize outstanding young professionals, creative initiatives that keep young professionals working in NH, and the businesses that go the extra mile to recruit and retain them.
Why: Let’s face it, NH needs to attract and keep younger talent. So, Business NH Magazine, Stay Work Play, a nonprofit committed to helping retain 55 percent of the state’s college graduates to stay, work and play in the Granite State, and the NH Division of Economic Development are partnering on a unique competition to highlight the best and brightest professionals 40 and under.
The Process: There will be six awards. The Coolest Companies for Young Professionals recognizes companies˜small, medium and large”that create outstanding workplaces with innovative programs to attract and retain young professionals.” The Young Professional of the Year award honors an exceptional professional 40 years old or younger who is a rising star in his or her field, has demonstrated leadership and who is committed to giving back to the community. The Young Professional Network Program of the Year honors a stand-out program developed by a young professional group that furthers young professionals professionally or socially and helps young professionals become more connected to their communities. The Stay, Work, Play Leadership award goes to an individual, organization, initiative or program in NH that significantly supports the recruitment and retention of young professionals in the state.
The Deadline: Friday July 29. Applications will be accepted online only by going to www.BusinessNHmagazine.com <http://millyardcommunications.com/index.php?cid=619168&forward=3&curlid=4> and click on the Competitions button.
Eligibility: 2010 winners are not eligible to compete, but we encourage them to nominate their colleagues. The Reward: Winners will be featured in the Young Professionals Guide in the November issue of Business NH Magazine and feted at an awards ceremony the same month.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
A web page dedicated to helping teachers and other educational professionals facing layoffs has been launched on the state’s job training web site.
George Bald, Commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, said the new page contains valuable information and referral links to assist teachers, paraprofessionals and others who are being laid off due to reduced local school budgets.
The web page, titled “Teachers in Transition” is at www.nhworks.org. It can also be found on the web site of NH Employment Security at http://www.nh.gov/nhes/.
“Many teachers and paraprofessionals are facing uncertain times and often do not know there are other opportunities outside the teaching profession that they may be qualified to pursue,” said Bald. “Teachers in Transition helps provide information on services they may want to access, including unemployment benefits, job match and job search services and links to help them consider other career fields, such as social services, technical fields, adult literacy, counseling, training and health care.
“We want teachers, paraprofessionals and others who may face layoffs due to local budget cuts that there are opportunities in other fields, and the Teachers in Transition web page helps with the immediate tasks of filing for unemployment benefits as well as finding new career paths,” said Tara Reardon, Commissioner of NH Employment Security.
The site also contains referral links to training programs in the state, and links to the public and private post-secondary institutions in New Hampshire, according to Jackie Heuser, Director of the Office of Workforce Opportunity.
The web page was developed by the Office of Workforce Opportunity and its workforce development partner agency, NH Employment Security.
“We still urge those facing employment challenges to visit their local NH Works Career Center,” said Heuser. There are 13 local NH Works Centers located throughout New Hampshire.
Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
The U.S. Small Business Administration is urging disaster victims seeking federal aid to be alert to scam artists posing as federal officials and to be cautious about any solicitations for fees to perform services that are available from federal agency staff for free.
In the wake of widespread flooding, wildfires and tornados in many areas across the country over the past few months, the SBA is particularly concerned about flyers that have appeared in tornado-damaged areas asking for non-refundable fees of up to $450 to help disaster victims fill out their loan applications and as much as $1,000 to verify losses and file loan applications.
Federal agencies involved in disaster recovery will never ask for a fee or payment to file an application for financial assistance or to inspect damaged property.
“Historically, natural disasters bring out the very best in people, and there are countless stories of the selfless acts of helpful neighbors and volunteers,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.
“Unfortunately, we have also seen in the past individuals who attempt to take advantage of people who need assistance. Disaster survivors should be vigilant in protecting their personal assets, particularly in the stressful environment of a disaster recovery.
“The SBA will not tolerate the defrauding of those who have already lost so much in the aftermath of these devastating disasters,” Mills said. “Those who are found taking advantage of disaster victims will be prosecuted to the fullest extent provided by law.”
If you suspect a person is posing as a local or federal agent, or encounter what you believe are fraudulent activities connected with disaster relief operations, contact your local law enforcement officials, phone the toll-free National Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, or send an email to email@example.com. The phone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
To register for federal help after a disaster declaration, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov, or call FEMA at 800-621-3362 (800-426-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired).
Disaster survivors may also visit one of the local recovery centers to get help with filing for assistance. To get help with the disaster loan application, contact the SBA by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for those with speech or hearing disabilities). Those affected by recent disasters may also file a loan application online by visiting SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.
The SBA makes low-interest, taxpayer-backed disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses and non-profit organizations of all sizes. More information about the disaster assistance program is available at www.sba.gov/disasterassistance.
Friday, June 17th, 2011
Resonetics, LLC has proudly announced the company’s relocation to a new facility in Nashua, NH. Because of the significant growth of its medical division, the new facility is 50% larger than the previous facility. Further expansion plans call for a doubling again by 2012; therefore, Resonetics has reserved surrounding space to accommodate this future growth.
The new Resonetics facility is located at:
44 Simon St.
Nashua, NH 03060
According to Cliff Gabay, President of Resonetics, “Over the last few years, our company has executed the strategic plan to build a thriving medical device component business, culminating in moving to a new facility to accommodate the growth. We just simply ran out of room.”
Regarding the reason Resonetics remained in New Hampshire and the city of Nashua specifically, Gabay cited, “Despite many attractive options from other States, we chose to remain in New Hampshire because of the tremendous support from the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and the local towns (Nashua and Merrimack) plus the fact that I could maintain close proximity to the existing Resonetics staff.”
“New Hampshire has a winning economic strategy in place which has made us one of the most business friendly states in the nation and a great place to grow a business,” Governor John Lynch said. “I am very pleased that Resonetics continues to grow and will do so right here in New Hampshire. I want to thank Cliff Gabay for expanding here in New Hampshire, and I want to thank our team in the Division of Economic Development for working with Resonetics in making this new facility possible.”
According to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, “Resonetics proves that manufacturing can continue to thrive in New Hampshire. Cliff and the Resonetics team leverage the talent found in the Nashua area to design, develop and manufacture cutting-edge products that are shipped world-wide. I’m thrilled that they have chosen to launch their next phase of growth here in Nashua.”
Resonetics is the largest total solution provider of laser micromachining products and services in the world. It is also regarded as having the largest independent plastic (polymer) laser micromachining facility with more than 50 UV-based laser micromachining systems and a medical component fabrication facility.
Laser micromachining is a critical fabrication technology for the manufacturing of medical devices, diagnostics, and a variety of non-medical products as the machining features become increasingly small.
The US-based company has three separate business divisions: the Medical Division, the Laser Micromachining Division (for Contract Manufacturing Services) and the Laser Systems Division (for capital equipment).
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) have introduced legislation that would help Americans find and keep employment through on-the-job training (OJT) programs.
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
“Today’s job market is changing rapidly and on-the-job training is an effective and efficient way to transition workers to new industries by giving them both a new job and new skills,” said Shaheen, a member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “These programs are a cost-effective way to provide both training and a livable wage to workers who have fallen into unemployment. By working directly with employers, they exemplify the kind of public-private partnership our recovering economy needs.”
“On-the-job training programs are important for preparing workers for a changing and increasingly diverse job market. Our legislation would provide enhanced resources for matching potential workers with employers who need qualified employees. Mississippi is among the states that successfully use on-the-job training programs to ensure that industry, whether traditional or high-tech, has access to well-prepared workers,” Cochran said.
The On-the-Job Training Act of 2011 authorizes the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to establish and support local OJT programs. OJT programs, which connect unemployed workers with jobs and provide employers with training subsidies, have a proven track record of helping unemployed workers gain new skills to find and retain employment. OJT programs also provide important incentives to small businesses to encourage job growth. The legislation is similar to a bill introduced by Shaheen and Cochran last year.
“I strongly support The On-the-Job Training Act of 2011 as a valuable way to get workers the training and jobs they need. Through on-the-job training, program participants gain workplace experience and have the opportunity to develop both the skills and personal relationships needed to get a job and keep it. I am grateful to Senators Shaheen and Cochran for their continued leadership,” said George Bald, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development.
The Shaheen-Cochran measure is also supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), CLASP, National Skills Coalition, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), New Hampshire Employment Security (NHES), New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES).
Tuesday, June 14th, 2011
A 2009 research study, presented by the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NH MEP), has recently been refreshed and is being launched today to reassess state manufacturers on strategies that win in the global economy. The 2011 Next Generation Manufacturing Study provides a framework for understanding Next Generation Manufacturing (NGM) by identifying competitive performances and corporate best practices for achieving world-class status in the 21st century.
The web-based NGM Study questionnaire can be accessed at www.NGMStudy.com. Any manufacturing owner, CEO or senior-level executive is eligible to participate. Participation in the Study is confidential or anonymous and takes 20-25 minutes to complete. Deadline for participation is June 21, 2011.
“Study participants who participate confidentially will receive a comprehensive Next Generation Performance Report showing how their organization compares to other manufacturers (all participants as well as groups of manufacturers similar to their organization) in the key strategic areas. This Report will be invaluable in helping companies manage their operations for Next Generation Manufacturing success,” stated NH MEP’s Center Director Zenagui Brahim.
The strategies explored by the Next Generation Manufacturing Study are customer-focused innovation, superior processes/improvement focus, human-capital management, supply-chain management and collaboration, sustainability, and global engagement.
“A focus on the six Next Generation Manufacturing strategies strongly correlated with success in the first version of this Study,” said John Brandt, CEO of the Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI), a global research firm that is conducting the Study. “Two years later, we’re interested in finding out what’s changed for U.S. manufacturers in a post-recession economy.”
The national sponsor of the Study is the American Small Manufacturers Coalition (ASMC), an organization composed of all of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Centers in America. MPI Group, an internationally recognized research firm that specializes in manufacturing issues, is conducting the Study and compiling the Reports.
The Study results will provide a wealth of valuable data for manufacturers, business leaders and state and national policymakers. “Manufacturers can see how they rank against world-class performance benchmarks and target improvements where needed,” said Sandy Johnson, ASMC Board Chair. “In addition, policymakers can strengthen and improve programs and services supporting manufacturers knowing the critical needs.”
For more information on the Next Generation Manufacturing Study, call NH MEP Center Director, Zenagui Brahim at 603-226-3200 or email email@example.com.