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Archive for January, 2011

Seminars on Free Trade Agreements Offered

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center has announced that it is hosting a seminar, “NAFTA, CAFTA and Other Free Trade Agreements.” The seminar will be held from 9 am noon, Tuesday, February 1 at ITRC’s headquarters at 172 Pembroke Drive in Concord. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m.  

global-dealFTAs are intended to open markets, expand business opportunities, and to help U.S. companies compete more easily in the global marketplace. The United States currently has 11 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), which account for more than 42% of all U.S. exports. Other trade agreements are currently in negotiation, including the U.S.–Korea, or KORUS, trade agreement.  

The half-day seminar will be presented Jeanette Reed of Evolutions in Business, a firm that specializes in training companies in export regulatory compliance. Participants will learn about existing FTAs and requirements that products need to meet in order to qualify for export under these agreements. The seminar will also cover how businesses can potentially expand to new markets, how to ensure compliance of existing exports, and how to qualify for elimination or reduction of tariffs. Rules of origin, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), and potential fines and penalties for non-compliance will also be covered.  

Cost for the seminar is $55 and includes a light breakfast. To register and pay online, go to http://www.exportnh.org/calendar/registration.aspx. To register and pay by check (payable to SNHU/IIB), mail your check to: ITRC Seminar, PO Box 1856, Concord, NH 03301-1856. For questions, call Ellie White at 603-271-8444 or email ellie.white@dred.state.nh.us.

Help VisitNH Get a Shorty Award

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Hey Folks,
     Was hoping that the economic development community and fans of the No Bull Business Blog could please get behind an effort involving our colleagues from the NH Division of Travel & Tourism Development (DTTD). My DTTD counterpart Tai Freligh has all of the details here:

shorty-awardHey everybody!  Want to help us win a Shorty Travel Industry Award for our social media work?  We need to get at least a 100 votes/nominations by the end of January to be included in the top six for the category at this point, but that number could change so we need to blitz this thing!  Tell everybody you know who tweets… 

Simply tweet “I nominate @VisitNH for a Shorty Award in #travel because…(enter why)” and you can help NH Tourism get recognized as one of the Year’s Best Travel Accounts on Twitter. 

Votes must have a reason after “because…” or they won’t count! Only one vote per Twitter account! 

There’s only 6 days left and the top 6 vote getters win a Shorty!  Nominations run through the end of January 2011. 

Check our profile here: http://www.shortyawards.com/VisitNH.  You can also submit a tweet right on that page. 

The Shorty Awards are a worldwide effort to engage hundreds of thousands of Twitter users to identify the best people and organizations on Twitter, culminating in a blockbuster ceremony in New York City.  The community is invited to nominate Twitter users for excellence over the past year. Each award recognizes each content creator’s entire body of work, not just an individual tweet. Nominations are made by sending a tweet, whether it’s through www.shortyawards.com or on Twitter. 

In February, the nominees will be narrowed down to six finalists in each category. Winners will be determined by a combination of popular vote and by the members of the Real-Time Academy of Short Form Arts & Sciences. An awards ceremony, complete with 140-character acceptance speeches, will be held in March in New York City. 

Please help support the state’s tourism economy!!

Construction Bonding for Federal Contracts Workshop Planned

Monday, January 24th, 2011

The New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program (NH-PTAP), a program of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, is offering an informative seminar, “Construction Bonding for Federal Contracts,” for contractors, builders and tradesmen who are or want to become government contractors on February 16th from 9 a.m.-noon at the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development offices at 172 Pembroke Road. Pre-registration for the event is required as seating is limited.

CB040563According to NH-PTAP Program Manager Dave Pease, “The Miller Act of 1935 requires performance and payment bonds prior to any award made for federal construction projects over $150,000. Businesses that have never been through the bonding process can find this process daunting. That’s why we’re pleased to have Bill VerPlanck of The Rowley Agency and Rachael Roderick of the Small Business Administration (SBA) present this training. They’ll take attendees through what contractors, subcontractors, builders and tradesmen need to do in order to be in compliance with the FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) Part 28, which outlines detailed requirements regarding bonds and insurance.”

The Miller Act was put in place to protect the interests of the federal government, taxpayers, suppliers and subcontractors. Bonding ensures that the construction contractors are qualified to perform their contractual obligation to the federal government, that taxpayer dollars are protected through third-party guarantees of contract performance and payment, and that suppliers and subcontractors have a payment remedy should the prime contractor become insolvent or fails to pay them.

VerPlanck, who will lead the training, will explain the differences between various bonds, why they exist and who uses them and how to get bonded; while Roderick will explain the SBA Express and Contract Line of Credit programs that can assist small businesses.

Bill VerPlanck joined The Rowley Agency in 1985 after serving seven years as the Hartford Insurance Company regional bond manager for northern New England. A graduate of Cornell University, he earned his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU®) designation in 1992 from the American Institute for Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriters. He is an active member of a number of industry associations including the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, New England Surety Association, Associated General Contractors of NH (past board member), NH Good Roads and Associated Builders & Contractors.

Rachael Roderick has worked for the SBA for 23 years.  As a Business Development Specialist, her responsibilities include administering the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program and marketing and outreach of the SBA’s programs including government contracting programs, loan programs, and business development assistance through resource partners.

All registrants for the free training must be NH-PTAP clients. For more information about this event and the free services that NH-PTAP provides or to sign-up as a NH-PTAP client, visit http//:nhptap.ecenterdirect.com.

For questions, contact Amanda Duquette at 603-271-7581 or email amanda.duquette@dred.state.nh.us. Please note that the conference room does not have wireless Internet connection for personal laptops.

A Prescription for Small Business Owners

Monday, January 24th, 2011

This column was authored by New Hampshire Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis:

Before I started working for the Division of Economic Development, I had run two small non-profits here in New Hampshire.  Due to their size and budget, health care coverage was not offered to the employees.  The cost for a relatively young and healthy individual was a big and painful surprise to me.  I could only imagine the financial pain inflicted on small businesses that are trying to offer health care to their employees.

christine-davis1I cringed when I heard from a business owner who wanted to know what he could do to lower his health care costs.  He had just learned that his costs were going to rise by $1,000 per month this year.  Every year his costs have increased and like most businesses, he has seen a dip in revenue over the past 18 months.   The reason why I cringed is two-fold.  First, the financial increase he stated is just crazy.  Second, I don’t have any answers that can eliminate his problem and I hate that.

Although I don’t possess a magic wand (something my seven-year-old thinks she can get from the tooth fairy), I do have some thoughts I can share which might be helpful.  It is important that as a business owner you go over your policy with your provider to make sure everything is accurate and up to date.  Are there any new plans that might fit your company and reduce costs?  Have you talked to any other providers?  There aren’t a lot of options but you need to look at them all before you settle for one.  You can go to www.nh.gov/insurance to learn more about providers in the State and up to date insurance information.

One option that has been gaining more subscribers is the high deductible plan.  I switched to one myself a year ago to reduce my premiums.  It may lower your premium but you need to be prepared to cover a higher deductible, which can amount to some hefty out of pocket expenses if you have an unexpected injury or illness.  If you decided to go the high deductible route, you can buffer it with a Health Savings Account (HSA). 

An HSA is an account that you can put money into to save for future medical expenses. There are certain advantages to putting money into these accounts including favorable tax treatment. 

I also want to remind small business owners of the tax credit that became available as of December 2010.  If your business has less than 25 full-time employees or 50 half-time employees and the average pay is less than $50,000.00, you very well may be eligible for up to a 35% tax credit.  That credit will increase to 50% in 2014.  There is a gradual phase out with wages between 25-50k and 10-25 full-time workers.  Non-profits can receive up to a 25% tax credit that will increase to 35% in 2014.  This tax credit can have some real positive impact on small businesses that are covering at least half of the cost of their employees’ health care.

There are so many reasons why our health care costs have gotten out of control.  While I can’t reform the system or get Americans to take better care of their health, I can recommend that you look into the above listed options and talk to your local legislators to learn where they’re at on the issue.  Those individuals can be found by visiting www.gencourt.state.nh.us.  If you are looking for change, reach out to those who have the power to make those changes.  On February 1st, you can attend the Small Business Day at the Holiday Inn in Concord to hear from health care experts on the high cost of health insurance and what suggestions they have for reducing those costs.  You can register for this morning event, a joint effort supported by the Division of Economic Development, the Business and Industry Association of NH and numerous business support organizations, by visiting www.nhbia.org.

Wicked Footwear Named “Innovation Rocks!”Award Winner for January

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Proving that creating an eco friendly line of shoes is a great way to put your best foot forward, Wicked Footwear has been named the “Innovation Rocks!” award winner by the New Hampshire Business Resource Center for the month of January.

wicked-woodyIn business since 1997, Wicked Footwear recently introduced a new nature-friendly outdoor “Eco-Fashionable” footwear line offering men two uniquely stylish selections. These multi-purpose shoes use recycled wood pulp creating a trendy comfortable fitting basket weave pattern that allows constant air movement inside the shoes.

Wicked Footwear is cited as the first company to use wood pulp uppers mechanically compressed using non-toxic chemicals. The shoe colors utilize true eco friendly paint. Wicked Footwear shoes are made from carefully selected natural biodegradable materials uppers that are eco friendly with a low carbon footprint.

“Not only are these shoes very cool looking and comfortable, they’re created in a very eco-friendly way,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Roy Duddy. “Wicked Footwear is a great example of a New Hampshire company that has an eye toward creating great products while still preserving the environment.”

For more information about Wicked Footwear, visit www.wickedhemp.com

“Innovation Rocks!” is an initiative sponsored by the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development’s Business Resource Center in coordination with Rock 101 (WGIR-FM) and the The Pavilion at the Hilton Garden Inn Manchester Downtown to celebrate the creativity and ingenuity of New Hampshire innovators.

We’ll Drop the Gloves for You

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Honestly can’t remember too many photo shoots that begin with the line, “Do you want my teeth in or out?” But alas, when you’re getting ready to conduct a shoot with Manchester Monarchs tough guy Richard Clune, the rules of the game are different.

Layout 1The whole point of our “We’ll Drop the Gloves for You” shoot was to get across a couple of basic facts of life: 1. That the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development will do almost anything to ensure that local business owners get the answers and assistance they need and 2. That our blog isn’t “business as usual” i.e. that it has a viewpoint and a unique approach to providing information that business owners need to have.

We thank Monarchs Vice President of Community Affairs Kim Mueller for her assistance in arranging the shoot – Kim has been a longtime friend and supporter of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development and we value our longstanding partnership. We thank the Glen Group’s Nancy Clark and Kris Mariani as well as photographer John Hession for creating an ad that is certainly capturing some great attention and we also thank Richard Clune who couldn’t have been any nicer as we tried different scenarios before finally settling on the set-up that you see on this blog post.

Besides running in the current edition of New Hampshire Business Review, this image is also used in the new Division of Economic Development display at the Verizon Wireless Arena. Come pay it a visit the next time that you’re in the mood for some great hockey!

– Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director

New Hampshire Exports Up More Than 40% in 2010

Friday, January 21st, 2011

New Hampshire had already exceeded its all-time annual export sales record eleven months into 2010, and showed the highest rate of increase in export sales among all the states, according to the New Hampshire Export Review released by the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center (ITRC).

exports-global-tradeIn making the announcement, ITRC’s Director, Dawn Wivell said, “As of November 30th, 2010, New Hampshire’s total year-to-date exports reached $3.889 billion. Prior to that our record was $3.752 billion in 2008—and that was for a full twelve months. To put it in perspective, this is a 40.56% increase over the same eleven month time period in 2009. New Hampshire has a lot to celebrate. The Granite State is number one among the states in rate of export growth, and we’re well above the national rate of 21.31%.”

The New Hampshire Export Review shows that 2,200 companies in the state export their goods or services. The majority of these are small or medium-sized businesses (referred to as SMEs) with fewer than 500 employees. SMEs generate approximately half of New Hampshire’s total exports of merchandise; this is the sixth highest share among the states and well above the national average of 30%.

Wivell says that New Hampshire is especially effective at marketing technology in the world markets.

“Each year the TechAmerica Foundation releases its annual report that details national and state trends in the international trade of high-tech goods,” she said. “We knew that New Hampshire was doing well in that arena, but we were especially pleased to find out that New Hampshire had the third highest tech export concentration in the nation last year; tech exports from New Hampshire accounted for half of our total exports.”

Wivell went on to explain that Mexico continues to be New Hampshire’s number one trading partner, with a 40% increase in trade in the first eleven months of 2010, while Canada continues to be second with an increase of nearly 20% during that time period. China, which was third in this category, has seen outstanding growth representing an increase of 93.54%. Other traditionally strong export markets including Germany, United Kingdom, South Korea, Hong Kong, France, Turkey, Taiwan, Australia, Brazil, Columbia and Singapore also posted double and triple digit increases.

“Our staff at the International Trade Resource Center was especially gratified to see these numbers since it really validates the work we’ve been doing to help New Hampshire companies break into and succeed in the international marketplace,” Wivell said. “I hope this will also serve to inspire New Hampshire companies that have been considering exporting to give us a call.”

10th NH Young Professional Network Launched

Friday, January 21st, 2011

New Hampshire now has its 10th young professional network, the Central NH Young Professionals Group (CNHYPG), based in Plymouth and a partner of the Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce.

young-workers“The CNHYP is a great addition to our region, as we are hoping to attract new layers of people who do not traditionally seek out a chamber of commerce for support,” said Plymouth Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Scott Stephens. “With this kind of group we can get more professionals interested in networking and getting involved in their community.”

Stay Work Play has created a young professional advisory group to bring representatives from all 10 young professional networks (YPN) together monthly to share upcoming events and news, best practices, allow mentoring from more established groups to those just arriving on the scene, and offer ways to help the YPNs.

“We truly value our role as a convener of young professional organizations throughout the state and as an ambassador to the business community,” said Stay Work Play Executive Director Kate Luczko. “Stay Work Play, the young professionals organizations and our many business partners share the same goal of retaining our best and brightest minds and building the strongest possible economy in New Hampshire.”

The other nine, regionally based, young professionals networks include: Catapult (Seacoast), Concord (CYPN), HYPE: Helping Young Professionals Excel (Salem), iUGO (Nashua), Keene, Lakes Region (LRYP), Manchester (MYPN), Mt. Washington Valley (MWVYPN), and the Young Professionals of Sullivan County. Collectively these groups have close to 10,000 NH young professional members.

Join Stay Work Play and network with young professionals from across NH at a Manchester Monarchs’ hockey game on Saturday, January 29th at 7:00 p.m. Details may be found at: https://www.monarchsjungle.com/stay-work-play-night

Trade Mission to Canada Announced

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Gov. John Lynch announced today that he will lead a trade mission to Canada, giving state economic development officials and New Hampshire businesses the chance to expand business opportunities with the nation’s largest trade partner. 

canada-flag-wavingThe trade mission to Montreal, Quebec, on April 7 and 8, will focus on creating new opportunities by matching New Hampshire businesses with businesses in Quebec, promoting New Hampshire’s business friendly environment and the state’s exceptional tourism offerings.  

“International trade is an increasingly important part of New Hampshire’s economy and I want to ensure we are giving our businesses all the opportunities possible to grow and create jobs,” Gov. Lynch said. “This trade mission will be a great opportunity for New Hampshire businesses to connect with government and business leaders in Canada in an effort to expand their market share.” 

Gov. Lynch will also meet with Quebec Premier Jean Charest, and state officials and business will have the opportunity to meet with provincial officials, connect with business and industry groups and meet with individual businesses.  

Canada is currently New Hampshire’s second-largest trading partner, with cross-border sales increasing 20 percent from 2009 to 2010. Canada is the world’s eleventh-largest economy and the largest trading partner with the United States.  

In 2010, New Hampshire export sales increased more than 40 percent over the prior year, putting New Hampshire first in the nation in terms of export growth.  

Businesses interested in participating in the trade mission should contact International Trade Resource Center Director Dawn Wivell at 271-8444 or dawn.wivell@dred.state.nh.us.

Job Seekers Being Provided With Tools to “Begin With Yes”

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

When developing an effective job search strategy, it’s best to keep this simple theory in mind – Positive attitude plus positive action leads to a positive result.

begin-with-yesThat’s the philosophy of award-winning human services CEO and local author Paul Boynton who is working with a team of State and private sector partners to help unemployed New Hampshire citizens access the tools and resources they need to return to the workforce.

Boynton, CEO of Manchester-based social service agency The Moore Center, announced today that he will be offering free downloads of his successful “Begin With Yes” inspirational book to any unemployed New Hampshire citizen throughout 2011 via a special download from his www.beginwithyes.com Web site. In tandem with this effort, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, White Mountains Community College, Public Service of New Hampshire, Logo Loc and media sponsor New Hampshire Business Review will hold the “Begin With Yes Career Fest” at White Mountains Community College in Berlin on Tuesday, March 15th from 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

“The lessons you learn in my book about the power of being positive and setting attainable goals are all good, but there needs to be a corresponding action plan to turn those good thoughts into activity,” Boynton said. “That’s why we’re not only offering free downloads to folks who are out of work, but are also providing them with the concrete set of tools they need to conduct an effective job search. It’s a two-pronged approach.”

In addition to Boynton’s keynote address, there will be four other general session workshops – “Job Search – Applications, Resumes and Cover Letters” (White Mountains Community College speaker TBD), “Effective Communication Skills in the Job Search” (Dr. Russ Ouellette, Sojourn Partners), “Networking – It’s Not Who You Know, But Who Knows You” (Kevin Shyne, North Country Tech Prep Director and Leadership North Country Executive Director) and “Social Media Basics for Job Seekers” (Allen Voivod, Epiphanies, Inc.).

“Recognizing that helping to develop a job ready workforce is a primary goal of education, White Mountains Community College is thrilled to be a part of this event,” said White Mountains Community College President Kathy Eneguess. “We look forward to lending the expertise of our staff in developing and coordinating workshops that provide valuable information to citizens looking for a fresh start backed with new ideas.”   

Through a special arrangement with Manchester-based EZStream and Portsmouth-based Kinney Hill Media Partners, the entire event will streamed live at http://bit.ly/NoBullStream .  

“Though the event is taking place in the North Country, we are definitely committed to ensuring that all citizens have access to this great information,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Roy Duddy. “Whether you’re someone who has been out of work for a long time or someone who is underemployed and is just seeking a new career direction, you’ll truly benefit from the combination of Paul’s book and the interactive workshops.”

“Public Service of New Hampshire is proud to take an active role in sponsoring and being on the coordinating committee of such a creative and proactive event in the state’s North Country,” added Public Service of New Hampshire Economic & Community Development Manager Pat McDermott. “Helping our citizens to get back to work and build a stronger workforce and local economy is a mission that everyone embraces and we’re just happy to be able to do our part.”

Unemployed citizens can download copies of “Begin With Yes” free of charge at http://www.beginwithyes.com/purchase.html. They will need to click the “ebook” option and enter YESNH in the discount code box. Admission to the “Begin With Yes Career Fest” is also free but is limited to the first 200 people. To register, contact Leslie Sherman at lsherman@dred.state.nh.us.