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Archive for May, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your (Economic) Engines

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013


Jericho Mountain State Park officially opened for the season last week and what a great summer it’s going to be, not only in Berlin, but throughout Coos County.

There will be miles of new opportunities for riding, as well as for the entrepreneur.

We have watched Berlin over the past few years transforming its economy, after its paper making industry became a part of its history. Today, Jericho Mountain, New Hampshire’s newest state park, is a spark plug in the economic engine that is firing up the rest of Coos County, too.

This summer, the 85+ mile trail system at Jericho will connect with a network of trails through the northernmost county. If you are an ATV enthusiast, you’ll want to map out an adventure on the Ride the Wilds.

If an emerging and evolving economy, like what’s happening in Berlin and the rest of Coos County, gets the entrepreneur in you inspired, this may well be the place to be.

Come on up and start your engines.

Lorna Colquhoun

Communications Director

NH Division of Economic Development


An Export Program Boosting Agricultural-related Businesses

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Through a partnership with Food Export USA – Northeast, the International Trade Resource Center offers a service to assist food and agriculture companies in New Hampshire with their export initiatives.

The State Export Initiative grant program provides up to $500 per company in cash reimbursement to qualified businesses to offset a portion of the qualifying expenses associated with export promotion activities. This matching grant allows them to receive reimbursement of up to 50 percent of qualified costs.

These funds have encouraged businesses to explore exporting and have aided many in participating in export-related activities at half the price, like Heron Point Seafood of Newmarket. Because the grant extends to businesses that have agricultural-based ingredients, from beer to beauty products, they also qualify for the program.

“This grant helped fund our participation in a major food show in China last fall that allowed us to meet some 40 new potential customers, some of whom we have already made sales to,” said Dave Jermain, sales manager for Heron Point. “The reimbursement is also supporting a sales trip to Japan later this summer to help us strengthen our relationships with existing customers and meet with new potential customers, as well as translation of our product brochure.”

 So, you’re probably thinking – what’s the catch? Is it really that easy?

The program is a three-step process. A two-page application outlines the export related activity and how participating will allow the business to grow. If approved, the reimbursement of 50 percent of the receipts is made, up to $500.

This program is also in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture and agriculture-related businesses across the state have taken advantage of this opportunity.

Jill Robbins

Jill Robbins

HomeFree of Windham, which makes allergy friendly products, was awarded reimbursement for participation in a costly trade show, which president Jill Robbins said would have been costly for her small business.

The CHFA West trade show, in Vancouver, Canada, is the largest trade show for the natural health and organics industry.

“I applied and submitted my receipts after attending and they qualified to receive the maximum reimbursement,” she said. “This enabled me to make other investments in the company.”

The ITRC is still accepting applications for this program. Whether your business is just getting started or is already exporting to several markets, we are eager to help you increase you export sales and continue to grow internationally.

For guidelines and application packet, contact the ITRC; email ellie.white@dred.state.nh.us or call the ITRC at (603)-271-8444.


Adrienne Messe

Intern, International Trade Resource Center

Export Controls: The Times are Changing

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The issue of export control is on the mind of many small and medium-sized business owners here in the Granite State. While they know of the world of opportunity in markets around the world, they also know that, depending on the kind of products they want to sell abroad, the jump overseas can be complicated.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, hosted the Granite State Export Controls Forum, connecting Granite State small business owners with a senior State Department official to discuss new ways to help New Hampshire businesses grow overseas.

While the state’s exports are running about 14 percent ahead of last year, Shaheen noted that “there is a huge opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of exporting” and leverage an inter-connected world to create jobs in New Hampshire.





About 75 people attended this morning’s event, including business owners and employees, attorneys and legislators and they are eager to learn more about President Obama’s Export Control Reform Initiative, a push to end what Shaheen described as “complex and antiquated” restrictions on exports and bring common-sense to the system of export controls.

She called for “the government to help, not hinder, New Hampshire companies reaching into foreign markets” and stressed the need for export controls that are relevant, timely and simple.

Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller also spoke of the need to reform the current system and make it easier for American companies, including those in New Hampshire’s defense industry, thrive in a global economy.

Why is this important? In 2012, the Granite State’s total exports reached $3.5 billion. In the first quarter of this year, they have surged 14 percent and there is increased interest in international markets, in large part because of programs like the State Trade Export Promotion (STEP) grants, which have helped scores of businesses explore or expand sales overseas.

Reform of export controls means more economic growth and progress for New Hampshire businesses trying to access foreign markets. For small and medium-sized businesses, the mission of creating a 21st century export control system that works for them is essential.

Shaheen and Gottemoeller vowed to continue advocating for these changes and stressed the need for the private sector to weigh-in as the reform continues.

ITAR and EAR reform implementation will be explored at a training seminar hosted by the International Trade Resource Center from 9 am to noon on June 6 at the Department of Resources and Economic Development.

To register, visit www.exportnh.com online or call (603) 271-8444.


Ethan LaFrance


International Trade Resource Center


Planning for the Affordable Healthcare Act

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Editor’s Note: Next year – 2014 — and full implementation of the Affordable Care Act will come sooner than many realize.  Only recently have many small businesses begun to take stock of what impact the ACA will have on them and their employees.  Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental provides some relevant information to help New Hampshire small businesses in that analysis.

Beginning Jan. 1, the Affordable Care Act will require individuals to maintain health insurance, employers to make available ‘affordable’ health insurance to employees and states to establish health benefit exchanges, which are web-based marketplaces for medical and dental plans.  Like individuals who will pay a penalty for failure to maintain health coverage, employers, too, can be subject to financial penalties for failing to meet their ACA obligations.  One big exception:  Employers with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees are exempt from at least that employer penalty.

The health benefit exchanges will serve two markets, although both will be accessed via one website; the individual exchange and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) exchange. Since New Hampshire did not set up its own state-based exchange, individuals and small businesses in New Hampshire will access the federal individual and SHOP exchanges to shop for health and dental plans.

Tom Raffio

Thomas Raffio


Carriers planning to offer medical and dental plans to New Hampshire residents on the exchanges are designing and filing plans with the New Hampshire Insurance Department that meet the ACA’s requirements. Carriers, too, have obligations under the ACA, some of which will significantly change what small businesses have seen in plans of prior years.  For example, all plans in the individual and small group markets must cover the “essential health benefits” (prescription drug coverage, emergency services, maternity and newborn care are three of them).  And, employers must offer plans that meet the “minimum essential coverage” standard, which is an actuarial value of at least 60 percent.

A recent study found that 44 percent of employers feel morally obligated to offer health coverage to their employees.  It is not a surprise, then, that many businesses are truly struggling to do right by their employees, but they do not have the information needed to make the best healthcare coverage decisions for their long-term financial interests and their employees.  You can read up on exchanges now at www.healthcare.gov, a website that will convert to the federal exchange portal this summer.  The U.S. Small Business Administration’s website, www.sba.gov, is another good resource.  And, before you calculate how much your business can contribute to your employees’ coverage, go to the IRS’s website, www.irs.gov, to determine if your business is eligible for the Small Business Health Tax Credit, which can equal up to 50 percent of your workers’ health care premiums.

I don’t advise you to rely on a blog for matters as critical as these, so it is best to consult your benefits team to answer questions, such as how to calculate FTE employees, whether your plans meet the ‘affordable’ standard, whether your business is eligible for the small business tax credit and others.

Thomas Raffio

President & CEO

Northeast Delta Dental