Editor’s Note: Next year – 2014 — and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act will come sooner than many realize. Only recently have many small businesses begun to take stock of what impact the ACA will have on them and their employees. Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental provides some relevant information to help New Hampshire small businesses in that analysis.
Beginning Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act will require individuals to maintain health insurance, employers to make available ‘affordable’ health insurance to employees and states to establish health benefit exchanges, which are web-based marketplaces for medical and dental plans. Like individuals who will pay a penalty for failure to maintain health coverage, employers, too, can be subject to financial penalties for failing to meet their ACA obligations. One big exception: Employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are exempt from at least that employer penalty.
The health benefit exchanges will serve two markets, although both will be accessed via one website; the individual exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange. Since New Hampshire did not set up its own state-based exchange, individuals and small businesses in New Hampshire will access the federal individual and SHOP exchanges to shop for health and dental plans.
Carriers planning to offer medical and dental plans to New Hampshire residents on the exchanges are designing and filing plans with the New Hampshire Insurance Department that meet the ACA’s requirements. Carriers, too, have obligations under the ACA, some of which will significantly change what small businesses have seen in plans of prior years. For example, all plans in the individual and small group markets must cover the “essential health benefits” (prescription drug coverage, emergency services, maternity and newborn care are three of them). And, employers must offer plans that meet the “minimum essential coverage” standard, which is an actuarial value of at least 60 percent.
A recent study found that 44 percent of employers feel morally obligated to offer health coverage to their employees. It is not a surprise, then, that many businesses are truly struggling to do right by their employees, but they do not have the information needed to make the best healthcare coverage decisions for their long-term financial interests and their employees. You can read up on exchanges now at www.healthcare.gov, a website that will convert to the federal exchange portal this summer. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s website, www.sba.gov, is another good resource. And, before you calculate how much your business can contribute to your employees’ coverage, go to the IRS’s website, www.irs.gov, to determine if your business is eligible for the Small Business Health Tax Credit, which can equal up to 50 percent of your workers’ health care premiums.
I don’t advise you to rely on a blog for matters as critical as these, so it is best to consult your benefits team to answer questions, such as how to calculate FTE employees, whether your plans meet the ‘affordable’ standard, whether your business is eligible for the small business tax credit and others.
The state scored an A+ and ranked third for its overall friendliness for small businesses. We are one of just four states in the entire country that earned the top rating and we had the highest grade in New England.
Last year, we came in with an ‘A.’
“This is a very respectable report card for New Hampshire,” said Jeffrey Rose, commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. “The high marks reflect the state’s commitment to maintaining an environment that encourages businesses and their employees to succeed.”
The 2013 study, the second annual one conducted by the company, draws upon data from over 7,000 small business owners nationwide. Thumbtack.com is an internet marketplace for services.
Last year, New Hampshire ranked 5th in the nation for ease in starting a business; this year, it rose to second place, behind Idaho.
The survey, conducted by the Kauffman Foundation, takes into account things like ease of starting a business (A+); ease of hiring (A+); zoning (A). The lowest score we received was a B for training and networking programs.
New Hampshire members of Thumbtack.com posted notes on doing business in New Hampshire.
“It has been very easy doing business in New Hampshire. I feel like it’s up to me whether I succeed.” Consultant, Sandown
“New Hampshire has fewer regulations than Massachusetts, and that makes a big difference for us.” Builder, Exeter
Got an idea for starting a business here in the Granite State? Start right here.
Commissioner Rose speaks after he is sworn in by Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Moments after Jeffrey Rose was sworn in as commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development, he said this is a fitting day for a new beginning.
Not only is it his first day on the job, but it’s opening day for the Boston Red Sox.
“For those who know me well, they know I am a huge fan of baseball,” Commissioner Rose said following his swearing-in ceremony. “The optimism, the hope, the renewal and all that lies before you is what opening day is all about and it is with that enthusiasm that I approach today, with this new job and new role.”
“There’s a lot of work to do,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan. “I think Jeff already knows, but he will discover, that the people of New Hampshire are the best resources we have.”
Rose comes to DRED from BAE Systems in Nashua. He grew up in Merrimack, spends time at the family’s getaway in Campton and brings to his new job a passion for New Hampshire and all the things that make it a wonderful place.
“I’m truly excited about this opportunity and all that is ahead,” he said. “As someone who has grown up and spent virtually his entire life here, I can’t think of more exciting opportunity and I look forward to doing wonderful things on behalf of the state of New Hampshire.”
W.S. Badger Co., in Gilsum, NH, worked with the Office of International Commerce to research potential export markets.
Like many small business owners, Kathleen Johnson juggles everything from overseeing the manufacturing process to marketing her product, Lickity Bits.
Located up in the North Country town of Columbia, it caters to owners of horses by encouraging horses to accept bits. She has a niche product, but knows that she could grow … well … unbridled … especially outside the U.S.
“As a small business owner, it is a daunting task trying to navigate through international markets that may be available,” Kathleen said.
“We learned that Brazil is a potentially key market for us, since it has the third highest horse market worldwide and prospering economy,” she said.
The OIC received a grant from the Eastern Trade Council to provide market research about the Brazilian market to her and several other businesses.
Why Brazil? The South American country has the seventh largest economy in the world, which is weathering the global economic challenges better than other parts of the globe. With a diversified economy and an expected surge in infrastructure improvements from now until the 2016 Summer Olympics being held there, U.S.exports are increasing rapidly.
“In a very competitive market, (the research) located one company interested in receiving information from WMI,” said Frank Morabito, the company’s international sales product manager.
Out in the Monadnock region, W.S. Badger Co. makes organic body care products, employing about 40 people at its new Gilsum plant. No stranger to the OIC, it has worked several times with the staff, most recently to help find a distribution partner in Russia.
“This service proved itself very valuable, as it allowed us to enter the market with a company that is screened and trusted,” said Stephanie Ritchie, Badger’s international accounts manager. “Our sales have grown slowly, but steadily, and we look forward to continuing to expand our business inRussia.”
If your company is considering exporting, you may be eligible for a grant that will pay for market research. The funds are part of the State Trade Export Promotion grant, which will, for qualifying businesses, provide these services at no cost. Available through the U.S. Commercial Service, the research usually costs between $500 and $750.
Orders for the services must be placed by mid-September. For more information, contact Kasim at 603-271-8444 or email Tina.Kasim@dred.state.nh.us.
Two months before the shopping begins at the Merrimack Premium Outlets, representatives of the more than 100 stores that will open there in June went shopping for employees Friday. About 800 positions need to be filled and answering the call were more than 2,000 people who came out to Nashua Community College on Friday.
On hand were teenagers, many of whom were likely seeking their first summer job, moms looking for hours that will accommodate their family time and folks looking to change direction in their lives, for whatever the reason. In the gymnasium, there was energy, enthusiasm and optimism that will propel the employees, the stores, the region and New Hampshire further out of the economic malaise of the past few years.
Mark your calendars for the grand opening – June 14.
(Memo to Fossil: We’ll be back to admire that handbag you had on display …)
As Karen Brown of CBS News notes, “New Hampshire has seen first in the nation pay off. The state’s unemployment rate is a low 5.2 percent, exports are at an all-time high, and the state is seeing a more modern manufacturing sector continue to grow — all factors that will be highlighted,” Brown said, “as the nation turns its attention to the first primary.”
The piece that ran on CBS’ Early Show today featured interviews with Governor Lynch and DED Interim Director Chris Way, both talking about the advantages to businesses setting up shop in New Hampshire. The piece also featured Bill Skelley, president and founder of Skelley Medical, who moved his business from Massachusetts to New Hampshire after a chance meeting with Governor Lynch started the ball rolling.
CONCORD – Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council on Wednesday approved a $4 million Business Finance Authority loan to complete a major economic development agreement between the State, Safran USA, and the City of Rochester.
The agreement will enable the construction of a previously announced 275,000 square-foot facility, in which Safran USA and Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) will be co-located. The facility will employ approximately 400 workers. The State, through the Department of Resources and Economic Development, worked with Albany, Safran USA and the City of Rochester to ensure an agreement could be reached.
“We have been working closely with Safran USA and Albany to see the project through to completion. Today’s news is a major economic development win for Rochester and the entire state of New Hampshire, and will result in the creation of hundreds of jobs,” Gov. Lynch said.
As part of the effort to recruit the new facility, the state has also partnered with Great Bay Community College to create a new composite manufacturing curriculum to train workers to fill the new jobs.
“Safran USA and Albany could have located their new facilities anywhere in the country, but they chose New Hampshire because they recognize that we have a strong workforce and a winning economic strategy. We worked intensely with the companies over the past several years to make the construction of this new plant, and the hundreds of jobs that come with it, a reality,” Gov. Lynch said.
“I want to thank (DRED) Commissioner George Bald and his staff, particularly state business recruiter Cindy Harrington, as well as New Hampshire’s Business Finance Authority, under the leadership for Jack Donovan, for getting us to where we are today. I also want to thank Mayor T.J. Jean and Rochester city officials for their work and commitment to this project,” Gov. Lynch said.
“Finally, I want to thank Albany International’s President and CEO Joseph Morone and Safran USA leadership for their commitment to New Hampshire and for working cooperatively to move this critical project forward.”
“This agreement, and the manufacturing plant and new jobs that will result from it, is a reflection of not only the strength of the relationship between the State of New Hampshire, the City of Rochester, Albany International and Safran USA, but also of how tightly our futures are connected. The efforts of Governor John Lynch and his team in this process cannot be overstated, and the new plant and new jobs that will be created are the direct result of his efforts on behalf of State of New Hampshire,” said Albany President and CEO Joseph Morone.
The new facility will manufacture composite engine components.
“We are very pleased to launch the construction of a manufacturing plant in Rochester, where the Safran group and AEC will combine their resources in order to produce advanced composite parts for the LEAP aircraft engines developed by CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Safran and GE,” said Peter Lengyel, President and CEO of Safran USA, Washington D.C. Operations.
Albany Engineered Composites is a subsidiary of Albany International, Corp., which employs about 225 workers at its existing Rochester facility. Last year, the company relocated its corporate headquarters from New York to Rochester.
“The City of Rochester is honored to be selected by Safran USA and Albany Engineered Composites to host their new world-class advanced manufacturing facility. This investment demonstrates Rochester’s commitment to attracting and securing sustainable industrial development and providing valuable jobs to our local economy,” said Rochester Mayor T.J. Jean. “Today’s announcement is a milestone for Rochester as we emerge from these difficult economic times.”
“This is a great day for Rochester and for the state of New Hampshire as a whole,” said Commissioner George Bald. “We thank Safran USA for making the decision to locate their facility in New Hampshire and commend the City of Rochester for its hard work in bringing in a quality company that will create new jobs and add to the economic vitality of our state.”
Construction of the new plant, near the existing Albany facility, will begin in the spring of 2012.
The latest New Hampshire Business Underground segment features Team O’Neil Rally School and Car Control Center in Dalton, NH. Not only are they the premier rally training center in North America, they also have a passion for teaching everyday drivers how to handle their cars in difficult conditions. In fact, owner Tim O’Neil is revolutionizing driver’s education and training in his own unique way:
You’ll also learn about Tim’s approach to training, and hear from one of his current students: Verena Mai, the top female drift racer in the US, who’s also appeared in the Fast and the Furious and Rush Hour movie franchises. She came to Dalton to expand her craft and become a champion rally racer, and in the second half of the segment, she shares some of her background and what she’s learning right now.
New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Roy Duddy was recently featured on Comcast’s Newsmakers program providing an overview of the resources available to entrepreneurs and small businesses in the state through the MyExpertNet initiative.
Host Jenny Johnson and Duddy discussed the many inquiries that are flowing into the site and how the new site is providing 24-hour access to experts for budding entrepreneurs, CEOs of existing companies and line workers alike. Duddy noted that technical assistance and resources needed to be computerized for better, more efficient support of these business professionals, and that it can be confusing to search for solutions on the Internet when you don’t know who to trust. So the state pre-qualified volunteers who would serve as experts on a wide array of topics and industry areas, to give expert answers that help people through their decision processes.
Go to http://www.MyExpertNet.org to connect with the expert business help you need, all free of charge. MyExpertnet was developed by the NH-based Knowledge Institute, in partnership with Comcast, the NH Division of Economic Development, PSNH, Unitil, and Centrix Bank.
Well, as you know, the No Bull Business Blog tries to keep an open mind about all things, including music, and we’ve been known to bust a dope rhyme every once in awhile.
In that spirit, we’d like to introduce you to a new rap video created by two sons of the Granite State, St. Anselm English major Alex Letvinchuk and Fairfield University film major Dan Dunn. These two young men used their creativity, musical skills and undeniable love of New Hampshire to create “The 603,” an homage to all things Granite State.
Special thanks to our comrade in arms Tai Freligh from the Division of Travel & Tourism Development for turning us on to this soon to be local classic and great job Alex and Dan!