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Ask CJ: Laying Out the NH Advantage

“I have heard that there are grants available to business owners in NH.  Is that true?  What other economic incentives are available to a NH business owner?”

I get this question pretty frequently from businesses of all sizes and industries.  What is that “NH Advantage” that we keep hearing about? 

NH Division of Economic Development Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Unlike some other states, New Hampshire isn’t known to dangle hefty incentive packages to lure new business into the state.  We don’t offer short term special deals to a prospective company from out of state that isn’t available to our current business owners.  What NH does offer, the NH Advantage, includes such things as our lack of an income tax and sales tax.  Also part of the Advantage is our high standard of living, quality of education, and geographic location.  We also have government agencies such as ours, the Division of Economic Development, that are reachable and responsive. 

Besides the above-mentioned incentives for locating your business in the Granite State, there are a number of other potential NH-based financial incentives.  Large energy consumers may be eligible for a grant that covers the cost of an energy audit.  Our division, www.nheconomy.com, offers free technical assistance, which could include an energy audit (valued at $10,000) to businesses that are spending $100,000 or more on their combined utilities.  The business can take this audit and work with a number of financial institutions, including the NH Community Development Finance Authority (which also has some grant funds for energy audits) to assist them with a cost effective plan to implement these recommended efficiencies.  These funds are limited so you will need to check first on availability. 

The Business Finance Authority (BFA) offers the Business Energy Conservation Loan Fund: http://www.nhbfa.com/BFA_LoanPlans_BizEnergy.html which is financing assistance for energy efficiency improvements.  The USDA Rural Development program, www.rurdev.usda.gov/vt, offers both grant and loan programs for a variety of projects and programs.  You will need to visit their website to see if your business falls within the geographic and industry parameters for the projects they support.  The NH Community Development Finance Authority, www.nhcdfa.org, also offers a tax credit program that provides, “New Hampshire businesses the unique opportunity to invest and target their tax dollars to community development projects throughout the state in exchange for a 75% State Tax Credit through the Tax Credit Program. This program enables businesses to invest cash, securities, or property to fund economic or community development projects in exchange for this 75% tax credit which can be applied against any or all three of the business profits, business enterprise, or insurance premium taxes. The donation also may be eligible for treatment as a state and federal charitable contribution.”

Businesses that are located within an Economic Revitalization Zone may qualify for a tax credit if they are making improvements to the facility and creating new jobs.  You will first need to check with your town or our office, www.nheconomy.com, to see if you are located in an ER Zone.  If so, you may be eligible to receive up to $40,000 in tax credits per year for up to 5 years to be used against your business profits tax and or your business enterprise tax.  It is a complicated formula but our staff will help with the heavy lifting.  This program also has limited credits available but that ceiling was not reached last year.

Non-profits are quite familiar with grants, as many of them need this support in order to function.  Grants are almost always restricted to non-profit entities and when I hear someone tell me they received a call about grant opportunities for businesses (of course in exchange for a fee) I cringe.  There is one grant in NH for businesses and it is the real deal.  The NH Job Training Fund is a matching grant program available to both for-profit and non-profit entities.  Companies can be awarded a cash match that ranges from $750 up to $100,000 for skills enhancement training.  What does that include?  Just about any training that increases the skill set of your employees including computer training, technical training, leadership and management skills training and lean manufacturing to name a few.  Details on this fantastic program can be found at www.nhjobtrainingfund.org

Through the University of NH the Green Launching Pad, www.greenlaunchingpad.org, “is a public and private sector initiative that enables local start-ups to bring green solutions to market.  We discover New Hampshire’s best and brightest, and then support them with the financial resources, business infrastructure, and academic expertise to succeed.”  Companies apply and compete to be selected as a GLP recipient.  Winners not only receive some funding and technical assistance but they also get some great press which has a lot of value. 

Also through UNH is the New Hampshire Innovation Research Center.  Created by the Legislature in 1991, these grant funds are meant, “To increase collaboration, technology development and innovation between New Hampshire businesses and universities.  New Hampshire businesses propose projects in collaboration with researchers, typically at Dartmouth Medical or the University of New Hampshire. Companies then match their project awards to fund the research which often leads to new production methods, new products and sometimes new companies.”  You can visit their website, www.nhirc.unh.edu, to learn more about this program.

Each city, town or county may have its own incentive program for business development.  You would want to reach out to your town manager, mayor or economic development director to see what is available.  You never know until you ask.

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 at the beach and discovering news places and activities in the community with her girls.  She can be reached at Christine.davis@dred.state.nh.us.

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