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5 Questions with Carmen Lorentz, NH Division of Economic Development

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Happy New Year! No, you didn’t miss the ball drop in Times Square – the new fiscal year just started for the state of New Hampshire, so for this edition of 5 Questions, we interviewed Carmen Lorentz, director of the Division of Economic Development.

For those of you who don’t know her, Lorentz has been the division’s director since January 2014. Prior to her appointment, she served as director of the Belknap Economic Development Council and previously analyzed state economic development policies at New York’s Public Management Institute.

Carmen Lorentz

Carmen Lorentz ~ Division of Economic Development

1. What are your priorities for the coming year?

We are working to provide new services to our local partners. One new tool we have is called EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists, Intl), which we can use to help communities and organizations with grant writing, strategic planning and economic impact analysis of projects. For example, right now we are working on an economic impact study with the Concord Lake Sunapee Rail Trail group to show how much new visitor spending and jobs could be generated along the trail if it is built. We also support the New Hampshire High Tech Council by providing it with quarterly data on changes in employment and occupations in all of New Hampshire’s high-tech sectors. There is no fee for this service.

Another tool we hope to unveil in January is a site selection website. It will enable companies looking for a new location for their business to easily identify buildings or sites that meet their needs and to analyze demographic, workforce and industry data in a customized geography around the sites they are interested in – all on their smart phone or tablet. This kind of tool has quickly become the industry standard in economic development. It will expand our marketing reach for out-of-state business attraction and will help local economic development organizations market communities and properties.

2. What are some of the best-kept secrets of the division?

People are often surprised to learn that our work supported the creation and retention of 8,260 jobs in New Hampshire last year. That is based primarily on three things: the 17 companies and 1,200 new jobs that our recruitment team helped bring to the state; the $650 million in federal contracts that 115 of our government contracting team’s clients obtained, and the $4.5 million in global sales that our international commerce team helped 13 companies land. The state invested $2.1 million in us last year, so that’s about $260 per job. Not a bad return on investment if you ask me.

3. Many out-of-state businesses are considering a move or expansion to New Hampshire. What are the most compelling reasons, in your eyes, for choosing the Granite State over the competition?

Many companies that choose New Hampshire are drawn here because we offer a low tax environment and an exceptional quality of life – low crime, low poverty, low unemployment and highly educated and healthy people. When companies work with us here at the division, they also see how easy it is to get things done in our small and very connected state. Since time is money, that can make a big difference and we get a lot of positive feedback on how responsive and business-friendly our state is compared to other places.

4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing New Hampshire businesses today and how is the division working to help businesses overcome these challenges?

Workforce. That is the number 1 thing we hear about from the companies with which we work. Many companies could grow faster if they could find people with the right skills. A generation ago, New Hampshire’s economic growth was bolstered by the fact that we attracted a lot of new, very highly educated people to our state. In-migration has slowed considerably, so if we are going to grow our economy, we have to do a better job of making sure that New Hampshire residents understand where the opportunities are and have clear and affordable pathways to good careers.

Here at the division, we are developing a more systematic approach to create partnerships that respond to workforce needs. We had a recent success where Cindy Harrington, one of our business development managers, was working with GE Aviation on it expansion in Hooksett. Officials there expressed a need for people with skills in tube fabrication and formation. Cindy brainstormed with others on our team and identified companies around the state with similar training needs, including Scotia Technology, Titeflex Aerospace, Axenics and ContiTech Thermopol. She convened those companies with the Community College System of New Hampshire and together they created a 10-week certificate program in tube fabrication and formation, which will be offered by Manchester Community College starting this fall. This program will enable people who are not from a manufacturing background to acquire the skills needed for potential employment opportunities at these five companies and others.

We are also working to create a framework based on this example for our staff and partners to use in responding to a company that expresses a need for workers with specialized skills, so that we can ensure the right resources are brought to the table to address the need.

5. The What’s So Cool About Manufacturing? video contest was very successful! Any plans to do it again?

Yes! We will launch the 2016 contest in September. Any middle school teachers who are interested should contact Lorna Colquhoun at lorna.colquhoun@dred.nh.gov or 271-2341 to get on the distribution list for the contest materials. You can see the videos from the 2015 contest on our YouTube channel.

Five Questions with Dave Pease, NH PTAP Program Manager

Friday, February 20th, 2015

(Welcome to our newest feature, Five Questions. Every week, nheconomy.com will introduce you to some of the most interesting and business-savvy people in New Hampshire, all within five questions. Ed.)


Selling to the government, whether at the federal, state, or local levels, can be a daunting challenge for businesses to pursue. It can also be a tremendous opportunity, with nearly half a trillion dollars waiting to be spent on products and services – some of which might surprise you.Print

To learn more about selling to government agencies, we talked to David Pease, program manager for the Procurement Technical Assistance Program. PTAP is a cooperative program of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense Logistics Agency and the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. NH-PTAP’s sole purpose is to help New Hampshire businesses win contracts and subcontracts with a wide variety of government agencies.


What do the opportunities for contracting with the federal government look like in 2015?

Sequestration and the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reduced government spending, so government contracting opportunities have become more competitive over the past few years. That said, it’s still an enormous market.

Federal contracting budgets peaked at $539 billion in 2011 and have declined steadily to $445 billion in 2014, a reduction of about 7 percent per year. We expect this to level off, unless Congress allows sequestration to continue, in which case the decline will continue and possibly accelerate.

Defense contracts are experiencing a shift from expenditures to support ‘boots on the ground’ to more strategic systems – ships, subs and aircraft systems. Drone-related expenditures remain high and are likely to continue to do so.

What business industries in New Hampshire have the best chances of landing a federal contract?

The federal government is always seeking the most effective goods and services at the lowest price consistent with high quality. New Hampshire companies that have excellent products, and are ‘lean and mean’ enough to provide them at highly competitive prices will continue to see good opportunities in the federal markets.

Many New Hampshire high-tech manufacturers have been, and will continue to be, successful bidders for federal contracts and subcontracts. In the wake of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, or commonly, ‘the Stimulus’), many New Hampshire construction contractors geared up for federal contracts, and have had increasing success carving out market share that they are likely to hold on to going forward.

We also have some outstanding specialty companies that will continue to see opportunities for their products and services.

What industries or types of companies would people be surprised to learn have received federal contracts with the help of PTAP?

The list is almost endless – juvenile furniture (cribs for Army daycare centers), off-road race driver training (for special operations troops) and investigation services (for the Department of Justice), to name just a few.

According to the SBA, “most of New Hampshire’s small businesses are very small, as 76.8 percent of all businesses have no employees, and most employers have fewer than 20 employees.” Are there opportunities for companies as small as these to bid for and win federal contracts?

Depending, of course, on the nature of the business, absolutely there are opportunities for the smallest of small businesses. Quite a number of our small machine shops, for example, make parts for military systems.

There are numerous small (but significant) contracts for landscaping, all of the construction trades, training services, security services, technical experts, food products, specialty garments – the list goes on and on.

What are the first steps business owners would have to take, if they’ve never done it before, to be able to bid for a federal contract?

We recommend that they become an NH-PTAP client. We provide free consulting and training to help New Hampshire businesses succeed with government contracting.

We usually start with an evaluation to understand the nature of the government markets for the company’s products or services. If the market appears to be attractive, then the company needs to determine what it needs to do to be ready to do business with Uncle Sam.

The legendary “red tape” is real, but NH-PTAP provides expert help getting through it, not just to winning a contract, but also through all of the requirements to comply with the government’s rules, along the way to successful completion and payment.
PTAP’s next training session is on Feb. 26, covering Federal Website Navigation III in Claremont. It’s a workshop where you’ll learn about the advanced tools available in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS-NG). FPDS is the repository of historical federal procurement data and can be used to better understand Federal customers’ buying patterns and structure. It also offers an opportunity to research and monitor the Federal sales of competitors and potential team members. Used effectively, FPDS can be a powerful market research tool. For more details, prerequisites, and to register for free, click here. For a list of all upcoming PTAP training events, click here.

That Time Again: Register Today for Small Business Day

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

It’s that time of year again – the Business and Industry Association’s annual Small Business Day, taking place from 7:30 am – noon, on Friday (the 13th) at the Holiday Inn, Concord.

Now in its 10th year, the BIA partners up with us and the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center for discussions with small business owners from around the state and timely information that helps them to manage and grow their businesses.

Gov. Maggie Hassan has been invited to make welcoming remarks, followed by a panel discussion featuring the state’s top elected leaders: Senate President Chuck Morse; House Speaker Shawn Jasper; Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. The state leadership panel will focus specifically on top small business issues of 2015 and how state elected leaders will resolve them.

Three educational sessions will follow. The first, Strong Businesses – Strong Profits – Strong Economy, will feature panelists Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development; Kit McCormick, New Hampshire Small Business Development Center; and a representative from TD Bank. They will discuss the NH SBDC’s pilot program to help business owners pinpoint areas in their businesses that would benefit from targeted SBDC assistance, educational resources and accountability, ultimately helping to strengthen their bottom lines.

During the next session, New Hampshire’s Energy Crisis: How Did We Get Here and What Can We Do About It?, Maureen Callahan, business development manager for Usource Inc., and Emile Clavet, co-owner of Provider Power, will discuss the circumstances causing New Hampshire’s dramatically rising energy costs and strategies to address this critical challenge.

The final session, Update on the ACA: Obligations and Opportunities for Small Businesses, feature discussion the current environment surrounding the Affordable Care Act, requirements for business owners and opportunities to better control their healthcare dollars.

The cost to attend Small Business Day is $15 per person and includes continental breakfast. Register here or call 603.224.5388 x116.

Happy Thanksgiving from NHEconomy!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Here comes Thanksgiving, on its way via a snow storm, which is a nice way to start the holiday season. It’s a nice time of year in New Hampshire.

It is also a busy time, a time to wrap up projects for the year, chart a course for the coming new year and somehow, find the time to make merry and enjoy the company of friends and family.

From all of us at the Division of Economic Development, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving … and a safe one, if you are traveling.

And, of course, being a champion of business and the economy, we have some business of our own to pass on.

DED-annual-meeting-socialFirst, our 19th annual meeting is coming up on Dec. 9. It’s a day when we bring together our colleagues from across the state and talk about the economy, some trends and what’s ahead. Thanks to sponsorship from our friends at Public Service of New Hampshire, this year’s event is at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester and the theme is Live Free and Grow. Expect, as always, an interesting keynote speaker, some lively panel discussions and presentation of awards from Commissioner Rose. We’ve squeezed in time for lunch and socializing with colleagues.

Registration is free, but seating is limited (and those seats are going fast), so we need you to register. Take a moment and click over to the registration page and we will look forward to seeing you.

By the time our annual meeting rolls around, you may be already started on your Christmas list. A good day to get started is Small Business Saturday, coming up this Saturday.SmallBizSaturday

Our state abounds with small businesses, some of the 23 million in the country. Since 1982, small businesses have increased 49 percent and since 1990, they’ve created 8 million jobs. Of all U.S. sales, 54 percent happen at a small business.

Small businesses here are everything from manufacturers to Main Street merchants. They employ our friends and neighbors, they give our communities identities and make them a nice place to live. In terms of dollars and cents, if you spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in the community.

See you around town.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
NH Division of Economic Development


A Different Kind of Marketing Conference

Monday, November 10th, 2014


When you see “Dare. Play. Breakthrough.” on the signs promoting a business conference, you know you’re in for a different kind of experience.

The ‘A-Ha!’ Summit, which this agency helped launch back in 2009, is celebrating its sixth year of bringing the latest information in marketing and social media to New Hampshire professionals. This year, the conference is happening from 9 am to 4 pm, Thursday (Nov. 13) at Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester.

Lani and Allen Voivod, the co-owners of Epiphanies, Inc. in Gilford and co-founders of the Summit, say that they’re thrilled to showcase “top experts in email marketing, mobile marketing, digital media, Instagram for business, content creation, results-driven success coaching, community building, online visibility, and energetic technology.”

The mix, they say, has to do with delivering the right combination of cutting-edge stuff, plus topics that help people get better at the things they’re already doing, and sessions and activities that get people out of their comfort zones.

Definitely not your typical business event.

Of course, we’ve been to the conference every year, and there’s a great opportunity for networking, too, since it draws attendees from a wide range of industries. Business owners, entrepreneurs, marketing managers and staff, and nonprofits groups have all been represented in the past.

One new wrinkle in the event is their keynote speaker, Roderick Russell, and his bio is unusual, to say the least. He’s described as a “professional sword swallower, mentalist, hypnotist and  speaker, driven by an intense desire to explore the fringe of human experience. The author and host of Remarkably Human: The Art & Science of Being Remarkable, his work has been also featured on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel, CNN, MTV, Maxim Magazine, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, and more.” Seems like the right guy to be giving a talk called “Dare to Be Remarkable.”

The other notable in the agenda is the “Online Domination” panel, which promises to cover “branding, responsive design, Internet performance, inbound marketing, search engine optimization, and trend-watching in business for 2015 and beyond.” And what conference would be complete without a free lunch and continental breakfast?

Lani and Allen tell us there are a few seats left, and the place to get tickets is at http://AhaSummit.com. Be sure to find us there and say hello!

Talking Turkey and the Day (or 2) After

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Turkey on Snow

A colleague lamented the other day that she catches herself thinking it’s only late September or early October, but here we are with Thanksgiving a little more than 5-hours-at-350-degrees away.

While we’re planning for the holiday and the guests who are on their way, chances are we are sparing a thought or two to after the leftovers are put away.

That’s when the start of the Christmas season goes into high gear and chances are, you’ll be stepping out to get a start on your list. A good day to head out would be Small Business Saturday, so declared by Gov. Hassan, who joins others around the nation in encouraging people to spend their holiday dollars on Main Street.

These merchants are the foundation of the communities in which we live. They do everything from giving our hometowns uniqueness and character to employing our neighbors and keeping the local economy robust and healthy. There are some very neat presents to be found and we are confident that in one of these stores, there is a perfect gift you may not find anywhere else.

When we get back from the Thanksgiving break on Monday (Dec. 2), we here at the Division of Economic Development have a busy couple of weeks coming up. We’re heading to Montreal to attend Aero Montreal’s Innovation Summit and we’re hosting our 18th annual meeting.

This year’s event is from 8:30 am to 2 pm, Dec. 11 at Church Landing in Meredith. The theme is Rock the Ages, focusing on the three generations in today’ workplace — the Boomers, Generation X and the Millennials — and how their experience, energy and imagination can be harnessed for economic success.

The event is free (thanks to sponsorship from Public Service of New Hampshire), but seating is limited. If you are interested in attending, please register here as soon as you can.

Safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving to all!


Lorna Colquhoun

Communications Director

New Hampshire Division of Economic Development


Celebrating Manufacturing in the Granite State

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Manufacturing Day is coming up on Friday and while it may not be a greeting card holiday, it is a celebration and observance of a sector that is vital to just about everything in our lives.

Take a moment and look at what’s within your arm’s reach. The computer on which you are reading this; computer accessories – a card reader, a keyboard; a telephone, landline and/or cell phone; a coffee cup; one of those little stress gizmos.

All these items, seen and unseen, were manufactured. The need for these components creates jobs. The payroll from these jobs supports other local businesses and the tax base helps to better our schools and communities.

So Manufacturing Day is a reason to celebrate. Here in New Hampshire, it will kick off Manufacturing Week beginning Monday and this will be an opportunity to showcase the industry.

Consider this: In 2012, about 66,000 people were employed in manufacturing, earning an average of $1,220 a week. Consider that average weekly wage for other workers was $938.

There is a great demand for workers, not only here in New Hampshire, but around the country. As part of Manufacturing Week, more than 60 manufacturers, community colleges and technical centers are making arrangements with local schools to welcome students and show them what 21st century manufacturing is like.


Manufacturing Day ~ Oct. 4
Manufacturing Week ~ Oct. 7 -11

There are exciting opportunities right here in the Granite State and, especially if you are the parent of a high school student exploring what to do after graduation, we hope you will connect with one of these open houses.

Manufacturing Week culminates on Oct. 10 with the 11th annual Governor’s Advanced Manufacturing and High Technology Summit, taking place at the Radisson Hotel/Center of New Hampshire in Manchester.

The theme is Manufacturing Matters and workshops will cover value stream mapping and modeling; positioning for growth and an introduction of the New Hampshire Aerospace and Defense Export Consortium. Harry Moser, president of the Reshoring Initiative, will speak about manufacturing jobs returning to the US.

The Division of Economic Development is pleased join the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the New Hampshire High Technology Council in presenting this event.

Please take a moment and register today to join us.

Lorna Colquhoun

Communications Director

NH Division of Economic Development


The New Hampshire Connection

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

No matter if you are away for a few hours, a few days or, god forbid, a few years, there’s something nice about running into someone from your world when you are half a world away from home.

So it is here at the Farnborough International Airshow. We are about 3,000 miles away from home and today, it was pretty much like Old Home Day here at our booth.

Sam Campagna and Susan Siegel with the very cool holograph at the Albany International booth this week.

We started the morning with a nice chat at the Albany International booth with Sam Campagna and Susan Siegal. The booth is pretty neat, with a holograph of AI’s use of advanced composite components. They caught us up on construction of the new plant in Rochester (it’s going well) and how business has been this week at Farnborough.

(Sam told us there were times when there was a line of people waiting to speak with the team here about AI’s products and their applications. That’s the kind of information we like to hear.)

A few minutes after that, Jim Geary, the vice president of sales for New Hampshire Ball Bearings in Peterborough circled back to say hello. While NHBB does not have a booth here, Jim was walking around the show to connect and make connections, which, weeks, months or years from now will turn out to be minutes well spent here in England.

Jim wasn’t gone for 10 minutes when Michael Hanrahan, president of Hitchiner Manufacturing in Milford popped in for a few minutes. He, too, spared a few minutes between appointments to connect with us and tell us that business for his company is growing busier.

And as we manned our corner at the airshow, we were amazed at the people, in their travels down the aisles, who stopped and shared their New Hampshire moments – the British man who went to UNH, the woman from India conducting research for her doctorate who visited the Lakes Region while studying in Boston, the Alabama official whose brother lives in Concord, the caterer who remembers stopping at a New Hampshire rest area (and OK, the liquor store) enroute to summer camp in Maine.

What do these connections have to do with being at an international airshow? It’s an obvious, if not fond and nostalgic way to begin a conversation and talk to people from all over the world about the things that are special about New Hampshire. It has been a good way to introduce our colleagues sharing the booth to these new connections and who knows? Maybe one of these folks will want to come back and bring his or her business here.

Back to our booth, the two gentlemen who were politely waiting for their boss to finish a meeting a few steps away said they had never been to New Hampshire, but know the story from the movie What About Bob (when Lake Winnipesaukee, for purposes of filming it, was “moved” to Virginia).

Their boss, however, was very familiar with the Granite State.

“My wife and I honeymooned in Sugar Hill 36 years ago,” said Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia. “We have many fond memories of New Hampshire.”

We don’t have much swag to give away, but we gave the him a magnet for his refrigerator, which reads ‘Live Free or Die.’

It also invites him to expand his company to New Hampshire.

Lorna Colquhoun

Communications Director

Division of Economic Development


Border Crossing

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

We’re putting the finishing touches on a busy week here at the Division of Economic Development, which started at the BIO International Convention in Boston on Monday and ended with a presentation in Sherbrooke, Que. on Wednesday and a visit with a manufacturer Thursday, who, by the way, likes our message … a lot.

About 80 people turned out for dinner and a talk about taxes … specifically the lack of thereof … just a short hop from northern New Hampshire. This is a place where there is room for Quebec companies to expand into the U.S. and a skilled and enthusiastic workforce to help them do it successfully.

This is not the first time we’ve done this. Every other year or so, with sponsorship from Public Service of New Hampshire, we visit places like Drummondville, Quebec City and Sherbrooke (this was our second visit) and talk about impôts to a country that knows them well.

That’s taxes. We talk to them about New Hampshire’s lack of them. When we got to the part about aucune taxe de vente, they couldn’t believe we don’t have a sales tax here. There was an audible gasp and buzz, like we were kidding.

We weren’t and we aren’t.

As Beno Lamontagne, our business resource specialist in Carroll, Grafton and Coos Counties, said Thursday night, dinner for 80 this week was the easy part.

Next week, next month, next year and maybe years from now, the possibilities we talked about the night before last will, like a seed, bloom, prosper and grow.

Lorna Colquhoun
Communications Director
Division of Economic Development

Take a STEP into Exporting

Monday, June 4th, 2012

The global market for aerospace and defense industry products made right here in New Hampshire is heating up.

             At the same time, the state’s Office of International Commerce has a key ingredient for businesses looking to take advantage of overseas opportunities – grants to help them make that leap.

            Investing some time and using the funding to check out what the world has to offer can have these businesses flying high and landing products around the globe.

            The OIC received a State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) grant that can help small and medium sized companies serving the aerospace and defense sectors cover the cost of market research overseas.  For eligible companies, these grants, provided in partnership with US Commercial Services, can save up to $700, as they begin the process of marketing their product in foreign markets and screening the responses.

            “We know there is an intimidation factor,” said Tina Kasim, program manager for the OIC. “We know that some of the regulatory aspects for many exports are a barrier for companies. But now is the time for many of them to jump into the overseas market and there is financial help available to make that happen.”

            In 2011, aerospace components were the ninth largest commodity exported from New Hampshire to countries around the world. Trade missions from China, Turkey and Taiwan to the Granite State in the past month illustrate the interest there is in products made here.

            “They look here, specifically, for US-made products and they know that New Hampshire is on the leading edge of new technology,” Kasim said.

            The assistance available, and underwritten by the STEP grant, provides individualized research on the markets where a company’s product is in demand.

            “We have the money for market research specifically for aerospace and defense,” she said. “This STEP grant for these sectors does the initial ground work for the companies, like determining whether certain countries have the right market for those components and products, what the competition looks like and a look at local regulations there and how it affects companies here.”

            Despite a soft global economy over the past year, New Hampshire companies that export have been doing well.

            “During our economic downturn, companies and manufacturers looked overseas to secure and diversify their markets,” Kasim said. “In many cases, this enabled them to retain their workforce, if not create more jobs right here at home.”

            For more information about how the STEP grant can help your business, contact Kasim at 603-271-8444 or tina.kasim@dred.state.nh.us or Justin Oslowski of the US Department of Commerce at Justin.Oslowski@trade.gov or 603-953-0210.