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Archive for May, 2011

#NHTelecom Summit a Great Success

Friday, May 13th, 2011

This post was provided by State Broadband Director Carol Miller who was one of the driving forces behind the Telecom Summit – great job by all associated with this event!

The 2011 NH Telecommunication Summit on May 11 at the Radisson in Manchester NH was an exciting gathering of service providers, technology companies, state agencies, regional planning commissions, municipalities and business.  Sponsored by NH Business Review, the NH Division of Economic Development, the New Hampshire Telecommunications Association, Head Networks and G4 Communications.

telecom-summitRoy Duddy, Interim Director, Division of Economic Development welcomed a crowd of close to 150 participants. He thanked everyone for their support and interest in the discussion surrounding expansion of broadband to unserved and underserved communities in the State of NH.

Carol Miller, Director of Broadband Technologies at the Division assumed the role of master of ceremonies keeping attendees on track for the keynote, breakout sessions, and a service provider panel as Industry Leaders share their insight.

“This represents the first time in several years that providers, municipalities, and businesses have gathered to share information and resources about telecommunications,” she said.

The keynote was delivered by Scott Valcourt, UNH on the Network NH Now, and other initiatives that build upon the federally funded assets in construction that will build middle mile fiber to all 10 counties of NH.  The Public Safety Microwave Project encompasses a planned upgrade of state agency facilities to a multi-user platform to free up space on state owned mountain tops for wireless broadband providers.  The New Hampshire Fastroads LLC will bring that fiber to the customer premise in two last mile projects in Rindge and Enfield.   In addition, Valcourt talked about the impact to economic development and the way it will change and enhance telemedicine, education, and job growth opportunities for the people of NH.

Breakout sessions included “Wireless/Cellular Technology Today” by AT&T’s Brian Krause,  “Where’s My Broadband?”  by Michael Blair of the NH Mapping and Planning Program at UNH, “Telecom 101 for Businesses and Municipalities” by Cisco’s Paul Gasparro and “Who Needs Broadband?” hosted by Carol Miller, Director of Broadband Technologies for the State of NH.

The Service Provider Panel was moderated by Matt Cookson, Executive Director of NH High Tech Council.  The Panelists were Brad Scofield, Regional Director of Product Management for Comcast, Jeremy Katz, CEO of segTEL, Gunnar Berg, CEO of Cyperpine Wireless and Bill Meehan Director of Segment Marketing of FairPoint Communications.

Each  panelist described their company products and footprint.  They answered questions about expansion to rural areas, and business incentives to enhance investments in infrastructure.

Allen Voivod of Epiphanies Inc., provided the social media blitz for the Summit thanks to the generous sponsorship of G4 Communications.  Video from the event can be seen online at the following location: http://www.youtube.com/NHEconomy, and photos can be seen at http://on.fb.me/2011TelecomSummit. Read the event’s comments on Twitter by following the hashtag #NHTelecom.

Gov. Lynch Applauds Purchase of Gorham Paper Mill

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Gov. John Lynch today applauded the purchase of the former Fraser Paper mill in Gorham by Patriarch Partners. 

Patriarch Partners Founder and CEO Lynn Tilton

Patriarch Partners Founder and CEO Lynn Tilton

“This is a great day for Gorham and Berlin, the North Country and the entire State of New Hampshire. We did not give up hope, we did not quit and our hard work has paid off. I am extremely pleased that we were able work together to identify a buyer with a plan to keep the mill open. This mill is important to the North Country economy, and it’s important that we keep our workers employed,” Gov. Lynch said. “We all must recognize it is because of the workers – and their skills and strong work ethic – that made this agreement possible.” 

“Patriarch is company with a successful track record and commitment to manufacturing, and we are very pleased they are choosing to invest in the hard working men and women of the North Country,” Gov. Lynch said.  

“While this is a great day, it’s just a step toward what we all hope will be a successful transaction that leads to the reopening of the mill.  We cannot rest or celebrate until the paper machines are up and running and our people are back at work. I want to thank Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald and his team for continuing to work to find a buyer, and Patriarch for recognizing what assets this mill and these workers truly are,” Gov. Lynch said. 

In September, Fraser Papers announced it would be shutting down the mill indefinitely on Oct. 13, after a potential purchaser could not secure sufficient financing. Since that time, the State of New Hampshire has been working with Fraser, local officials and potential buyers to find a way to keep the facility operating as a paper mill. 

“I want to thank Governor Lynch and George Bald because without the state’s help, I am sure the mill would have been torn down by now. Governor Lynch has been instrumental in keeping the mill open and we can’t thank him enough,” said Spanky Lozier, president of United Steel Workers Local 75, the union representing the mill workers. “I want to thank Lynn Tilton (Patriarch CEO) for purchasing the mill and keeping it operating as a paper mill and Willis Blevins (mill manager) for working with the state to find a buyer. The rollercoaster ride is done. I am happy to see former Fraser workers will be working again, and I can’t wait to see smoke coming out of the stack and the machines up and running again.” 

Patriarch Partners is a global investment firm, which owns over 70 companies, and specializes in purchasing distressed businesses. Patriarch has been successful in purchasing failing mills, reopening them, and putting people back to work, including the Old Town Fuel & Fiber facility in Maine. 

“While there is a lot of work to be done to restore this business, and it will take time to rebuild a mill that had been shuttered and left to liquidation, we are confident that we have a plan to achieve long-term success,” said Lynn Tilton, founder and CEO of Patriarch. “Patriarch is committed to turning around distressed and dormant businesses with the dual goal of building portfolio value while sustaining and creating jobs in America. This acquisition presents an opportunity to achieve both goals as we rehire the mill’s workforce and make the necessary investments and operational changes to return the company to long-term profitability.” 

“We are very appreciative of Patriarch Partners for their commitment to the North Country and their efforts to put 240 citizens back to work,” said New Hampshire Department of Resources & Economic Development Commissioner George Bald. “With over 70 portfolio companies including many manufacturing firms, Lynn Tilton has an excellent track record and dedication to job creation. I also want to applaud Governor Lynch for his leadership in seeking a new buyer and the many state agencies that helped to make this deal a reality.”

Presenters, Panelists & Sky Dive Pitch Company Lined Up for Entrepreneur Forum

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

After weeks of preparation, two groups of highly skilled panelists in the alternative energy and retail business sectors have been named to critique the presentations of Revolution Energy and NextChoice.  These two companies were recently selected to present their products to the panels and live audience to gain feedback and insight on marketability and finance strategies at the NH High Tech Council’s Entrepreneur Forum on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.  
high-tech-council-logoRevolution Energy is a leading provider of alternative energy in the State of New Hampshire and recent recipient of a grant through the Green Launching Pad program. NextChoice™ offers flexible, intelligent, automated smart self-service solutions for the restaurant, grocery, casino and stadium sectors to drastically reduce customer wait time in lines and to improve the customer experience. 
The event will be held at the FIRST headquarters located at 200 Bedford Street, Manchester, New Hampshire from 5:20pm until 8:30 pm. The cost for the event is only $25 for NHHTC members, $30 for non-members, and only $10 for students.  Individuals can register at NHHTC.org.
The Forum includes a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres and networking opportunities, as well as a “sky dive pitch” from PoKos Communications.  PoKos creates and delivers Social Messaging™, a new text, broadcast and brand marketing software platform for smart phones. Social Messaging enables users to make new connections and enrich their lives, while providing companies and agencies with the first mobile brand marketing solution to reach and engage in continuous conversations with targeted groups. PoKos is based in Portsmouth, NH.
The Revolution Energy Paneilists Include:

M. Curtis Whittaker has been a shareholder of Rath, Young, and Pignatelli since 1991.  Curt heads the firm’s Energy Practice Group, and is a member of the Corporate/Business Law Group.   

John Harper is the founder and manager of Birch Tree Capital, which offers demonstrated financing expertise for renewable power generation projects. Since 1990, John Harper has been a developer, lender, and equity advisor in arranging, extending, and advising in financing of several gigawatts of power projects. 

Tony Grappone is a partner in the Boston. office of Novogradac & Company LLP where he specializes in providing accounting, tax and consulting services to developers, syndicators and investors of projects that qualify for a variety of tax credit programs.

NextChoise Panelists are:
Eduardo Alvarez is an MIT Sloan graduate who has conducted product development research with the MIT media lab and IDEO. He is co-author of MIT best-seller “Design-Inspired Innovation” published in 2006 by World Scientific. He is founder and president of VIGIX.

Randy Dow has over 30 years of Information Systems experience with well over 20 years in strategic and management roles.  Randy is currently a co-founder and Managing Partner for BDP Technology Solutions LLC based out of Concord, NH, a systems consulting and Integration Company. 

Tim Sweeney serves as Business Development Manager for Telequip Corporation, Salem, NH. Telequip is a subsidiary of Crane Payment Solutions a division of Crane, Co (NYSE:CR). Telequip and its sister companies NRI, Cash Code and Money Controls provide both stand-alone and OEM cash handling products.  

About Revolution Energy:  Revolution Energy (RE) is a leading provider of alternative energy in the State of New Hampshire.  Located in Dover, RE was founded in 2008 with one mission – to make alternative energy affordable.  The model is simple: RE installs renewable energy/retrofits existing energy systems and then sells the power generated back to the business in which the site is located. After the completion of the power purchase agreement (PPA), the business can take ownership of the system, and the system continues to generate significant cost savings, as power is no longer purchased from Revolution.  Mike Behrman and Clay Mitchell, co-founders of the company, will make the presentation.  rev-en.com

About NextChoice: NextChoice™ offers flexible, intelligent, automated smart self-service solutions for the restaurant, grocery, casino and stadium sectors.  Designed for easy, flexible and fast integration into busy, large-scale enterprises, NextChoice offers complete, centrally managed, self-service solutions that are scalable and offer high availability with minimal maintenance.  Because NextChoice solutions are designed around an open architecture, they work seamlessly with legacy platforms and point-of-sale (POS) systems, and accommodate new technologies easily and quickly, while providing rapid return on investment.  Founded in 2003, the company is privately-owned and located in Dover.  Dick Andersen, the company president, will make the presentation.  nextchoice.com

The NHHTC holds three Entrepreneur Forums per year where attendees discover how to present a plan to potential investors or gain valuable feedback on specific topics. These events are designed to attract attendees that include entrepreneurs who are developing a business idea or have an interest in the subject matter of the presenters, members of the financial and investment community, and students. 

Each of the presenting companies is given 15 minutes to present its business plan and receive feedback from a panel of experts and the audience. Typically, panelists include at least one investor (angel, venture capitalist, corporate investor, or financial institution) appropriate for the stage of the company and the amount of capital sought. Other panelists are chosen for their familiarity with the industry, technology, market place or strategic issues being addressed.

The panel acts as venture advisors for an evening and provides feedback and potential solutions to challenges faced by entrepreneurial companies based on their own professional experiences and expertise. These business challenges are those encountered by most entrepreneurial companies – including financial, marketing and sales, technology, operations, management, growth, diversification, and more.

To learn more about the event, go to NHHTC.org or call 603.935-8951.  Attendance is limited given space constraints.

New Hampshire Named Most Livable State

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Governor John Lynch announced today that New Hampshire has been named the “Most Livable State” in the nation.

Governor John Lynch

Governor John Lynch

In its annual report, CQ Press listed New Hampshire as No. 1 in its most livable state rankings, which take into account a broad range of economic, educational, health, public safety and environmental statistics.

“Here in New Hampshire we have a winning economic strategy that is clearly working, and we must be careful not to stray from the successful strategy that has led to our state being name the most livable. We must remained focused on ensuring New Hampshire continues to be a leader in economic recovery with good-paying jobs for our people, a high-quality of education for our children, greater access to higher education, providing a safety net for our most vulnerable citizens and protecting the public’s safety,” Governor Lynch said. “We must keep moving New Hampshire forward and maintain our position as a national leader.”

The ‘Most Livable State’ rankings are based on 44 factors that reflect a state’s quality of life, including median household income, crime rate, state business tax climate, employment and several educational factors.

Rural Energy for America Program Applications Invited

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has invited agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for loans and grants to implement renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.  

usda_reap_farmwindIn addition, the program also provides funding to complete feasibility studies for renewable energy generation systems and energy efficiency improvements.  For information on how to apply for assistance, contact Steven Epstein in the Concord, New Hampshire office at 603-223-6041. The deadlines for submitting completed REAP applications are June 15 and June 30, depending on the type of project to be funded. 

“Biomass, biofuels and other renewable energy sources present an enormous economic opportunity for rural America and the rest of the nation,” Vilsack said. “President Obama and I recognize that we need to win the future by implementing a long-term strategy to meet our country’s current and long-term energy needs. The funding I am announcing today will help make America’s farmers, ranchers and rural businesses more energy efficient.”

Since Rural Development’s renewable energy and energy efficiency programs were launched in 2003, they have played a key role in helping more than 6,000 businesses nationally create jobs and make energy efficiency improvements. Under REAP, local businesses receive assistance to deploy wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy as well as implement energy efficiency projects. 

Locally,  Wagner Forest Management of Lyme, New Hampshire took advantage of a REAP grant and loan guarantee combination to finance the installation of a solar electric generation system to offset 33% of their company’s office building electrical needs.  

Tom Colgan, President of Wagner stated that, “I was very pleased to work with the USDA on our system financing needs.  Now that the system is up and running we love it—particularly on the days when the sun is shining!”  Christopher Bessette of Yankee Farm Credit in White River Junction provided the loan portion of the financing while USDA RD provided a grant and loan guarantee to Farm Credit.

USDA is providing funding for up to $61 million in guaranteed loans and $42 million in grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Funds are available to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements and conduct studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $149 billion in loans and loan guarantees. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency’s programs or to locate the USDA Rural Development office nearest you.

Science Cafe New Hampshire Set to Launch

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

In the interest of giving you the latest news about all of the things that make for a vibrant, growing and interesting New Hampshire, here’s a neat press release that I just ran across:

“Science Café New Hampshire” Launches with May 24 Forum in Concord on Climate Change

New Hampshire is joining a national grassroots movement aimed at bringing more science into public discussion of scientific topics, with the launch of Science Café New Hampshire. The first café is set for May 24 at 7:00 p.m. at The Barley House (downstairs) in Concord; the topic will be “Climate Change in New Hampshire?”

iconmicroscopeThe free monthly gatherings at The Barley House in Concord involve loosely organized discussions among several invited scientists and the general public, with snacks, drinks and plenty of back-and-forth available throughout the evening. It is modeled after dozens of similar gatherings run around the country and the world by universities, colleges and professional groups, but this one has even more of a grassroots beginning.

Science Café New Hampshire was created by Sarah Eck of Hopkinton, a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and Dan Marcek of Brookline, a veteran of the computer industry. They felt a shortage of opportunities for the general public to learn about, and talk about, the science and engineering of controversial topics that will affect life in New Hampshire, whether it be climate change or digital privacy or the future of food.

“Science comes in many forms today and New Hampshire needs exposure to all of them. Science Cafe New Hampshire will help bridge the gap, connecting science and scientists with the general public in a conversation about issues we are facing. Preparing New Hampshire for 21st century means we all must work a little harder to be informed by the facts, not the rhetoric.

“Public dialogue is a big part of the answer,” said Dan Marcek.

“The informal atmosphere of our science café will allow local experts to share their research and knowledge with non-scientists and provide a comfortable environment for comments and questions to be raised and considered by all present. Additionally, we hope that the issues raised at Science Café New Hampshire will spark an ongoing discussion that extends into homes and communities,” said Sarah Eck.

The first café, set for May 24 at 7:00 p.m. at The Barley House (downstairs) in Concord, will follow the general format. Its topic is “Climate Change in New Hampshire?” Three panelists will be present: state climatologist Mary Stampone of UNH, who’s particularly knowledgeable about computer modeling of climate; UNH Professor Lawrence Hamilton, whose research includes the Arctic, Human-environment interactions, and statistics and data analysis; and Rhett Lamb, planner for the City of Keene.

They will give short introductions about their expertise, and then the evening will be opened for comments and questions from anybody who shows up.

The format isn’t a “sage from a stage” lecture hall, but discussions among people who want to understand the realities of climate change so they can make more well informed decisions.

The café will be moderated by Dave Brooks, a science writer for the Nashua Telegraph, whose weekly Granite Geek column and daily Granite Geek blog have touched on many of these topics, with a lighter tone, for years.

“I’m there mainly to make sure nothing horrible happens, like somebody trying to discuss politics,” said Brooks. “And if things get too slow, I’ll tell my joke about the 3.14159 mathematicians who walk into a bar.”

A second Science Café New Hampshire is being planned for June, on the topic of the future of food, with more monthly Science Cafes taking place in the fall after a summer hiatus.

To learn more about the discussion, http://www.sciencecafenh.org/.

For more information, contact Dan Marcek at 603-801-6943, marcek@gmail.com or Sarah Eck 603-728-8243, sarahmeck@gmail.com.

Diversity Conference to Discuss Foreign Investment in NH

Monday, May 9th, 2011

The New Hampshire Cultural Diversity Awareness Council will be hosting its 7th annual Diversity Conference, Dinner and Expo for Business and Education on Tuesday May 24th at 4 p.m. at the Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown. The theme is “Foreign Investment= Job$ and Diversity”.   The focus for the dinner and conference will be on bringing foreign investment to New Hampshire and how it can create economic development, jobs and enrich New Hampshire’s ethnic diversity.

Consul General of India- NY, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal

Consul General of India- NY, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal

The keynote speaker is the Consul General of India-NY, Ambassador Prabhu Dayal.  Ambassador Dayal will talk about India’s rich history of being an ally and trade partner with the U.S. He will also talk about how Indian business interests and venture capitalists are looking for opportunities to invest in America. Why not here in New Hampshire?  Ambassador Dayal will also be accompanied by a delegation of approximately 20 Indian CEOs and venture capitalists. There will be a two hour “match up/ networking session”  where attendees can meet with Indian venture capitalists, potential investors and business buyers.
Matthew J. Slaughter, Associate Dean of the MBA Program and the Signal Companies’ Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, will be a special guest speaker. He will talk about why states such as New Hampshire need foreign investment and how it can benefit from the ethnic diversity that may accompany the investment.  Mr. Slaughter is currently a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research; a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the academic advisory board of the International Tax Policy Forum; an academic advisor to the Deloitte Center on Cross-Border Investment; and a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Tax Policy Forum.

Governor Lynch has been invited to speak about how foreign investment can have a positive impact on our state and make New Hampshire’s economy stronger.  The moderator and master of ceremonies is Gordon J. MacDonald, Esq. Attorney MacDonald is a partner at the law firm of Nixon Peabody LLP.
Conference/dinner tickets are sold in advance.  Table sponsorships are available. For tickets and table sponsorship information, please visit our web site at nhcdac.org. For further information call 603-494-4723, email- nhcdac@aol.com The proceeds from the conference/dinner go toward funding the NHCDAC “Keeping the Dream Alive” ® youth diversity workshop and other diversity programs.

NHCDAC’s mission is to increase awareness of the need for communication, understanding and respect among people of ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds. Through community events, educational programs and alliances with corporations, educational institutions, government agencies and non-profit organizations, NHCDAC addresses the important issues of multiculturalism facing our nation today.

ITRC Plans Environmental Compliance Seminar

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Manufacturers and exporters who ship to the European Union (EU) need to understand the requirements of the RoHS (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive to ensure that their products, and their components, comply. The RoHS Directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment that contains more than the agreed levels of contaminants.

recyclingThat’s why the New Hampshire International Trade Resource Center (ITRC) is offering a seminar, “Product Environmental Compliance: RoHS, REACH and Other Product Environmental Legislation” on Tuesday, May 10th from 9am to 11:30am at its headquarters at 172 Pembroke Road in Concord. 

According to Dawn Wivell, ITRC’s Director, “In 2010, New Hampshire exports to just seven of the 27 EU countries—Germany, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, France, Portugal, Italy and Spain—totaled more than $826 million dollars. That’s why it’s so important that New Hampshire businesses who export to the EU have the latest information on product environmental compliance.”

During the seminar, attendees will learn about RoHS and the Recast (recent amendments to RoHS that simplify product scope, but add a more stringent process for demonstrating product compliance); REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) for article manufacturers; and best practices for and lessons learned on product environmental compliance.
Speakers for the event will be Krista Crotty of Alberi EcoTech and Marie Degulis of Chemserve Lab. Krista Crotty is the Chief EcoGeek and managing partner of Alberi EcoTech, located in Las Vegas, NV. For more than 10 years, she has assisted companies with product environmental compliance globally by teaching workshops, working with companies and speaking at conferences. Marie Degulis is the Business Relations Manager for Chemserve Lab of Milford, NH, a full-service analytical laboratory serving environmental and consumer product clients. Chemserve utilizes the latest technology and current methods, including XRF (x-ray fluorescence) analysis, for CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), RoHS, REACH and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) compliance efforts.

The cost for the seminar is $40 per person. Register online at http://exportnh.org/calendar/registration.aspx. If you prefer to pay by check, please make the check out to SNHU/IIB and mail to: PO Box 1865, Concord, NH 03301. For questions, contact Ellie White at 603-271-8444 or ellie.white@dred.state.nh.us. The International Trade Resource Center, ITRC is a bureau of the State of New Hampshire’s Division of Economic Development/ Department of Resources and Economic Development.

FairPoint Offers Additional Economic Scenario Model Training Sessions

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

FairPoint Communications will be hosting training sessions on the economic development modeling tool it sponsors to assist economic development and planning professionals in forecasting regional growth. 

fairpoint-logo1The model has been used and recommended by economic development professionals throughout the state, including the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy in studies commissioned by the Business and Industry Association. 

The Connect NNE Economic Scenario Model™ is a FairPoint-sponsored Microsoft Office Excel-based software tool created to provide information on existing economic conditions and estimate potential impacts of new development and job creation scenarios in New Hampshire and across northern New England.  The model allows users to estimate impact on jobs, earnings, output and gross domestic product (GDP) resulting from changing a region’s economic focus.  

The model was launched at a press conference held at the State of New Hampshire Legislative Office Building in Concord last November.  Joining FairPoint State President Teresa Rosenberger were Commissioners George Bald of the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, Tara Reardon, NH Employment Security, George Copadis, Department of Labor and Liz Gray, Governor Lynch’s Special Assistant for Policy.  Training has been conducted in the following communities since the launch: Berlin, Concord, Conway, Keene, Laconia, Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth. 

“We have heard from economic development leaders that they are looking for tools to help them understand influences on the local economies,” said Teresa Rosenberger, state president for FairPoint in New Hampshire.  “This software tool provides local communities with quantitative data to support economic development initiatives that will help the communities grow and prosper and, in turn, provide a benefit to all.” 

FairPoint is offering hands-on training sessions led by its economic development arm, Connect NNE, at three sites across New Hampshire.  

May 18th (9:00-11:30 am)
Pease Public Library Community Room, 1 Russell Street, Plymouth, N.H.

May 18th (2:30-5:00 pm)
Derry Municipal Building, 14 Manning Street, Derry, N.H.

May 19th (9:30 – 12 noon)
Dover Public Library Lecture Hall, 73 Locust Street, Dover, N.H.

Economic development professionals interested in attending one of these sessions are asked to contact Ellen Scarponi at EconomicDevelopmentNH@fairpoint.com.

Ask CJ: What Opportunities are Available to Women-Owned Businesses?

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Q: I may soon be buying my father’s business and wanted to know what opportunities are available to women-owned businesses?

A. This is a great question as I have heard from a number of people who want to know how they can take advantage of any opportunities for women-owned businesses.

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

NH Business Resource Center Seacoast Business Services Specialist Christine Davis

Like most circulated information, some of it has been over-hyped or incorrect. That being said, there are potential opportunities for businesses that are at least 51 percent women-owned. To be eligible for certification at either the state or federal level, the female owner must manage the day-to-day operations of the business, work full-time in the business and meet other criteria to show she is not the head of the company in name only. Getting your business certified takes some time and effort, but it may help you land new contracts and clients.

The state of New Hampshire does not have a certification specifically for “women-owned” enterprises. What the state does offer is a certification for the “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise.” This certification covers women and minority-owned businesses who must also meet certain financial criteria. The certification is intended to level the playing field for minority and women-owned enterprises. You can find the application at the Department of Transportation’s Web site, www.nh.gov/dot/org/administration/ofc/dbe.htm. Any DOT contract with federal funding, in whole or part, through a public agency or corporation must utilize DBEs. That is where certification on the state level may work to your benefit. It is also attractive to corporations looking to meet their diversity goals. Other benefits to certifying with the state include: Listing on the NHDOT directory, receive bidding information for upcoming state and municipal projects and a value added service to your clients.

As far as federal certification opportunities, you may have seen some recent publicity about the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program that became effective Feb. 4. The program identified 83 industries that will allow contract preferences for women-owned or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The set-asides are up to $5 million for manufacturing and $3 million for all other contracts. If you visit the SBA Web site, www.sba.gov, you will find most of these businesses are those that have historically been male-dominated. A person interested in getting certified can do it themselves at the moment and soon through a third party.

Any business in New Hampshire, male or female-owned, that is interested in soliciting government contracts can seek the assistance of the New Hampshire Procurement Technical Assistance Program, which is a part of the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development. The PTAP group offers free assistance to New Hampshire companies looking to sell goods and services to federal, state, local government agencies, and school districts. It offers training, counseling and other information that helps companies navigate the contracting process. Information can be found at www.nheconomy.com/sell-to-the-government.

One last thing I want to point out is that when it comes to securing new business, whether it is government or private, the business basics still apply. You can have all the certifications in the world, but you still need to provide a quality product or service that is competitively priced if you want to grow your business. Relationships matter in both the public and private sector. Once you obtain your certifications you will still need to market your business, develop good relationships and provide excellent customer service. It never goes out of style.

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.