We just spent a whirlwind two days in Boston, representing New Hampshire biotech sector at the BIO International Convention, which is being held throughout this week at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Billed as the world’s largest biotechnology event, organizers say more than 15,000 people from 48 states and 65 countries will pass through the doors, taking advantage of the opportunity to talk with peers, researchers, industry leaders and others about the latest and emerging developments.
Commissioner Bald talks about the advantages of doing business in New Hampshire with people attending the BIO International Convention in Boston this week.
With that many people on our doorstep, it’s a good time for networking and with the sponsorship of Public Service of New Hampshire, we hosted a reception for about 50 people Monday night, who represent out-of-state biotech companies. It was a chance to meet people in a sector we’d like to see grow even stronger and even get to thinking about expanding or relocating to the Granite State.
“It’s a chance to plant seeds with these companies who, in the future, may want to come here,” said Cindy Harrington, one of the state’s business recruiters.
Because it has happened before and joining the reception to talk about the how and why they moved their businesses to New Hampshire were Bill Skelley of Skelley Medical; Jake Reder of Celdara Medical and Bill Piombino of Lonza Biologics.
The guests came from around the country and more often than not, they had a story, a memory or an in-law about New Hampshire. One was introduced to the state by a long-ago girlfriend; another attended a conference on Lake Sunapee and still another wistfully promised to return one day to ski at Waterville Valley. Couple sentiment with all the Granite State has going for it these days and one day down the road, we’ll be talking to them again.
This morning, we spent several hours at the New Hampshire booth at the conference, where the team, including PSNH folks and Paula Newton, president of the New Hampshire Biomedical Council, fielded questions about everything from the tax climate and advantages to biotech to people just stopping by for a Granite State fix.
“It’s an absolutely fabulous event for the biotech sector,” said Christopher Way, interim director of the Division of Economic Development.
Stop and think for a moment about the small businesses in your life.
The corner store where you can count on picking up the morning paper and catching up on conversation and where it is especially busy at lunchtime when the crew from the machine shop, the auto body place and the landscaping project show up to grab a sandwich.
The coffee shop where the waitress knows your eggs are over easy and you need extra cream for the coffee.
The dry cleaner, the jeweler, the gift shop … the list goes on. These are the places that give our communities character (and characters) and keep our economies robust.
But behind the cheerful faces we associate with these places we turn to make our lives easier are the challenges of keeping a small business in business.
According to the Small Business Administration, there are about 131,000 small businesses across New Hampshire, representing over 96 percent of all employers and 51 percent of the private sector workforce.
They are the lifeblood of the New Hampshire economy and all throughout next week, they are being celebrated.
Several of them address one of the biggest concerns of not only of those who turn the sign in the window to ‘open’ every morning, but those men and women looking for just that chance and entrepreneurs, who have the sign but need some help to find the right door to hang it – financing.
The week-long event kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Monday at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center downtown. U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New York Times reporter Amy Cortese, who wrote Locavesting:The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It and a panel of small business owners – Jeff Baker, president – Image 4; Nick Soggu, founder and CEO of Silvertech; Deb Desrosiers, owner of Visiting Angels and Jim Doyle, president and CEO of XMA Corp. will all provide a lively start to the week.
If you are a small business owner – or would like to become one – check out the comprehensive schedule of events going on throughout the week.
The partnership to develop a business incubator in Plymouth received a hearty boost upon the news that the Grafton County Economic Development Council (GCEDC) received $225,000 for construction purposes. The grant, from the Northern Border Regional Commission, will be used to leverage federal funds that could complete the project by mid-2013.
GCEDC Executive Director Mark Scarano
Since 2010, the GCEDC has partnered with Plymouth State University and others to develop a business incubator in Plymouth. The incubator, called the Enterprise Center at Plymouth, will provide support services to new and growing entrepreneurial companies from around central New Hampshire. The services include networking with other companies and equity funders, mentoring, technical assistance, and, in many cases, leased space to launch businesses.
As its role in the partnership, Plymouth State University will provide the services and staffing to assist the companies. The GCEDC will be responsible for providing flexible space for companies as they grow. Typically, incubators will provide space and assistance for up to thee years, or until a company is financially viable.
The Northern Border Regional Commission funds will be used to redevelop 149 Main Street, Plymouth. Currently vacant, the building holds promise, because of its location and proximity to PSU’s Small Business Institute, to continually develop new innovative companies. Thanks to the Commission’s funding, the GCEDC can now apply for federal funds that, if successful, will allow the organization to create a second floor on the one story structure.
“We’re extremely pleased that the Northern Border Commission joins us in seeing the strong economic development potential in the Enterprise Center at Plymouth,” stated GCEDC Executive Director Mark Scarano. “These funds were crucial in allowing us to move forward with the project.”
PSU President Sara Jayne Steen was also pleased to hear the news. “The partnership to develop the Enterprise Center at Plymouth is an important step for expanding PSU’s award winning entrepreneurial education capacity in the region. PSU’s Small Business Institute has assisted hundreds of businesses over its 30 year history. Now, thanks to our partnership with the GCEDC and support of the Northern Border Regional Commission, we are closer to being able to offer a real estate component to its services.”
The New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development took an early lead in promoting the Enterprise Center at Plymouth project to the Commission. “Governor Lynch strongly supports efforts to develop programs that support entrepreneurs as they start and grow,” stated DRED Commission George Bald. “I’m glad that we could play a part in helping this economic development project move forward to completion.”
Created by Congress in 2009, the Northern Border Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that provides funding to economic development, transportation, infrastructure and conservation projects in the northeast’s northern forest region.
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).
Small business owners looking to hire new trainees can receive up to 90% reimbursement of wages for up to six months with a program being offered by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development’s Office of Workforce Opportunity.
The special program has been well-received by employers since it was introduced last fall and some funds remain for businesses getting ready to hire new workers, according to George Bald, Commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development.
“We’re seeing an increased hiring by employers as New Hampshire recovers from the recent economic downturn, so this special On-the-Job (OJT) training program is timely and provides real financial incentives to hire people who are looking to rejoin the workforce,” said Bald.
The OJT program offers up to 90% wage reimbursement for businesses with up to 50 employees, and companies with up to 250 workers can receive 75% wage reimbursement when they hire a dislocated worker who has been unemployed for 18 weeks or longer, and who undergo a company-designed training program.
Southern New Hampshire Services (SNHS) administers the U.S. Dept. of Labor-funded program for the state and has job placement specialists who will work with the employer in the design of the training program. There is even one-time support payment for tools and other work-related necessities not generally provided by the employer, said Bald.
Maggie Hinkle, the OJT Job Placement Coordinator at SNHS, said 34 employers throughout the state have utilized the program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). “The companies represent a cross-section of our diverse economic base, from manufacturing to information technology, construction and service companies,” said Hinkle.
The average age of trainees in the program is 46, and many of them started with the participating companies under the state’s Return to Work program, which also helps employers with trainee wages.
“There are many out-of-work people who can become great employees, and the OJT program will match employers with those prospective employees, with minimal paperwork and a maximum return for the participating company.”
For information on the program, contact Maggie Hinkle, Job Placement Coordinator at email@example.com or 603-477-4913.
Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council have approved the use of federal Workforce Investment Act funds to expand a successful program in Grafton County that offers real world learning opportunities and high school credit for students.
The $234,678 contract with the Grafton County Economic Development Council will help to expand the existing North Country Workplace Education Project.
“We must continue to create new opportunities for real-world learning, where students can gain on-the-job training and the basic skills they need to graduate from high school and get a good job. These funds will allow us to expand a successful program, where students are learning valuable lessons, as well as high school credits,” said Gov. Lynch. “This program represents the state’s growing efforts to provide greater alternative education programs that are helping more of our young people graduate from high school.”
Gov. Lynch has made increasing New Hampshire’s high school graduation rate a priority, by increasing the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 and expanding alternative education programs. In just the last year, New Hampshire’s high school dropout rate decreased by 30 percent. This initiative builds on those efforts.
The current program matches students from the Lisbon Regional School and Profile High School, with companies such as Garnet Hill and New England Wire. Funding from the Workforce Investment Act will fund an expansion to other North Country high schools and businesses.
“Providing students with the opportunity to gain new job readiness skills is of paramount importance to building the workforce of tomorrow,” said Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald. “I’m thrilled that more and more young people will be able to access this first class project and to take advantage of this excellent public/private partnership.”
“The Governor and Executive Council’s support for this public/private partnership represents the solid support for innovative solutions to the problems in the North Country,” said Mark Scarano, executive director of the Grafton County Economic Development Council.
Gov. John Lynch and the Executive Council yesterday approved the use federal Workforce Investment Act funds to establish two new innovative programs to help North Country residents build their own businesses and connect North Country workers with jobs.
White Mountain Community College in Berlin will administer the two new programs: The North Country Business Launch Pad and the New Hampshire Talent Team.
“Even before the onset of this recession, the North Country’s economy lagged behind the rest of the state. We must work to ensure economic recovery comes to every part of New Hampshire, which is why are launching these two new efforts to help North Country citizens build their own businesses and to connect North Country workers with jobs,” said Gov. Lynch.
The North Country Launch Pad will assist residents of Coos, northern Grafton and Carroll counties in starting their own businesses. The college will work with entrepreneurs to develop business plans, to help them develop marketing plans, and to connect them with financing and other resources.
This initiative will provide aspiring entrepreneurs in the North Country the technical support they need to build their own businesses – and to create jobs for their neighbors.
The New Hampshire Talent Team will focus on training individuals who want to work at the new federal prison slated to open in September. The college will also provide technical assistance to companies that have goods and services to sell to the prison.
“The new federal prison is estimated to employ 300 people, and the facility will require supplies and support from businesses. I want to make sure these jobs go to North Country workers and businesses. This initiative will help position North Country businesses and workers to reap the economic benefits of this new facility,” Gov. Lynch said.
“These two new initiatives are excellent news for the North Country,” said Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald. “Not only will citizens be able to pursue their dream of business creation, they will also have the opportunity to gain important skills to secure employment at the new prison. These initiatives will help to build a stronger and more vibrant local economy.”
When disaster struck in Haiti last month, Portsmouth-based Global Relief Technologies was quickly on the scene providing the technology necessary to upload critical medical information. Now they’re being hailed as a “First Class Business” as part of Jack Heath’s “New Hampshire Today” show on WTPL 107.7 FM on Wednesday, March 3rd at 4 p.m.
Global Relief Technologies (GRT) was founded to help organizations in remote, disconnected and extreme environments report critical information in “real time.” They developed the software and the PDAs to help rescue workers and relief organizations like the American Red Cross gather and process information during a crisis. Currently, their satellite linked handheld computers are providing vital medical assessment information which is helping to give Haitian amputees a much higher chance for survival and recovery.
“This is a company that is improving the lives of others not only domestically, but internationally,” said Heath. “In an age where communication is key, this is a technology company that is linking people with important information in the most adverse circumstances.”
GRT Vice President of Operations Art Cleaves, a former Regional Administrator for FEMA Region I, will be the special guest for the segment which will highlight the company’s rapid growth and future plans.
“First Class Business” appears on a monthly basis as part of the “New Hampshire Today” program that runs from 3-5 p.m. Monday through Friday on “The Pulse.” “New Hampshire Today” host Jack Heath and New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald share good news about innovative new products created by New Hampshire companies, community service projects undertaken by local businesses and firms that are thriving despite a tough economic climate.
To listen live, tune in to WTPL 107.7 on Wednesday, March 3rd at 4 p.m. or visit WTPL online at www.wtplfm.com.