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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Cookson’

5 Questions with Matt Cookson, New Hampshire High Tech Council

Friday, April 17th, 2015

High technology. It’s not just a business sector in and of itself. It’s a critical element of every successful industry, integrated deeply into the work of companies and the lives of their employees.

New Hampshire has a strong and growing tech pedigree, and to learn more about it, we interviewed Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Tech Council. The council is a member-driven organization with a focus on advancing innovation throughout the Granite State and Cookson himself has been actively engaged in many boards and organizations in New Hampshire in his 25-year career.


Matt Cookson ~ NH High Tech Council

You’re in your fifth year as executive director for the New Hampshire High Tech Council. How has the industry evolved since then?

I took over as ED in 2010 and like other sectors it was a challenging time economically. Fast forward to today, and we are seeing solid job and sector growth, great movement in advanced manufacturing, software development, apps, cyber-security and other areas.

I’d say there is much greater recognition that the tech sector is absolutely key when it comes to driving economic development. Serving, supporting, and growing this sector will lead to job creation, enhanced state revenues, and stronger communities. Look at the difference in Manchester, for example, as well as the expansion of incubators across the state, including areas such as Plymouth.

Technically speaking, almost every industry is high-tech in one way or another. How has that affected the NHHTC’s mission and outreach over the years?

It’s true – hospitals are tech, real estate is tech, automotive is tech. It has affected us in terms of workforce development, knowing that tech training is key, be it at the four-year level for computer science, at the two-year level through the partnerships our community colleges have formed with advanced manufacturing companies, such as Safran or Hypertherm, and at the training level as well.

From a membership standpoint, we have always attracted members from the service sector as well, so our outreach has been consistent. Last, from an outreach perspective, we have become much more proactive and while we have a strong membership base in the Route 3 and Route 93 corridors, we plan to do more in the Seacoast in the near future in terms of creating a stronger presence in that tech-heavy region.

Where are the best opportunities in the traditional high-tech space for businesses in New Hampshire- or for those considering a relocation to New Hampshire?

Geographically, we have strong hubs in greater Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth. In a recent report, Nashua led the pack with the highest number of advertised tech jobs in the state. We will continue to see relocations that hug the border because companies like to draw from Massachusetts. We also hear from our members along the highway corridors that having rail in the region is attractive to those in the tech industry.

Quality of life is a huge selling point for companies moving to the Granite State. What are tech companies finding here that they can’t get in Boston, Silicon Valley, or other traditional tech hubs?

There continue to be three primary selling points:

– The quality of life piece with an emphasis on having the mountains, the ocean, and Boston within easy drives

– The fact that employees will likely be better off in New Hampshire than other major tech hubs because they will not be paying an income or sales tax

– The overall cost of living is substantially less than a Silicon Valley-type of environment

What are the NHHTC’s top priorities for improving the state’s high-tech industry over the next one to two years?

Supporting start-up companies through visibility, networking and competitions; reducing taxes and regulations on business to encourage growth and investment; highlighting best practices and innovation to spur new partnerships; and working with the educational sector to provide data on what industries and skill sets are most needed for today’s and tomorrow’s workforce.

#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.

Businesses, Government and Providers to Gather at Telecommunications Summit

Monday, April 18th, 2011

Imagine a day without email, teleconferencing, online videos, Google or cell phone access. In today’s world, broadband access is critical—especially to business growth, economic development, education and telemedicine—as we become more reliant on digital communication, from email to teleconferencing and social media.

telecomHow State government, municipalities, businesses and providers can work together to expand and improve broadband access throughout New Hampshire will be the focus of the 2011 New Hampshire Telecommunication Summit, which will be held on Wednesday, May 11 at the Radisson Hotel Manchester Downtown. Sponsored by the NH Division of Economic Development, the NH Telecommunication Association (NHTA), HEADNetworks and NH Business Review, the summit will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry and see the latest in voice and data technology.

According to Carol Miller, Director of Broadband Technology for the State of New Hampshire, “This represents the first time in several years that providers, municipalities and businesses will gather to share information and resources about telecommunications. While we’re justifiably proud that New Hampshire ranks second in the nation for households with broadband access, we still have a lot of work to do to expand broadband to rural areas. Businesses tend to locate where broadband is, so making broadband, including wireless, available in rural areas is important to our economy.”

On the agenda will be an address by Scott Valcourt, UNH Adjunct Faculty Member in
Science & Technology Division, Computer Information Systems Program, who will speak on “New Hampshire’s Newest Broadband Initiative.” A panel discussion by New Hampshire service providers on “Statewide Broadband and Business Expansion Incentives” will be moderated by Matt Cookson, executive director of the New Hampshire High Technology Council.

Three breakout sessions—“Wireless/Cellular Technology Today,” “Where’s My Broadband?” and “Telecom 101 for Businesses and Municipalities”— will be offered, as well as lunch and ample time to meet with exhibitors.

Cost to attend the summit is $75 per person, which includes lunch. Registration begins at 7:45 a.m., with the program running from 8:45 a.m. to approximately 2pm. Register online at www.nhtelecom.org/Summit2011. For more information, call NHTA at 1-800-400-NHTA (6482) or email Summit@nhtelecom.org. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.

Lodging is available at the Radisson, which is located at 700 Elm Street in Manchester. Call (603) 625-1000 and use “NHTA” to receive the attendee discount.

Cookson Named Executive Director of High Tech Council

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

The New Hampshire High Technology Council (NHHTC) Board of Directors has selected Matt Cookson as its new executive director.  He has taken over this role from Carol Stephens, who recently stepped down after 12 years of service.  Cookson is president and founder of Cookson Stephens Corporation, which was selected by the Board to handle the management of the NHHTC.  The NHHTC will be co-locating its offices in downtown Manchester with Cookson Stephens beginning in January 2011.   

Matt Cookson

Matt Cookson

“At a time when the NHHTC has evolved into the voice of NH’s technology sector, Matt Cookson brings to the Council valuable experience in NH’s business and education communities that will serve member business interests and our number one priority, which is the education of NH’s workforce and future leaders,” said Fred Kocher, president of the NHHTC.

The NHHTC engages, connects and serves member companies in technology-related fields.  Since 1983, the Council has supported education, training and economic development efforts that have helped New Hampshire become a leader nationally in technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Some of its premier programming includes the Product of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Entrepreneur Forum events, among others. 

Cookson Stephens Corp. (CSC) is a strategic communications firm that serves as a valued and integrated extension of client organizations to help them plan, refine, and achieve their communications and organizational objectives. Services focus on public relations, web/social media, and marketing, as well as non-profit services and management.  Cookson will be dividing his time between the NHHTC and the work of running the company and managing additional accounts.  He has been involved in the NHHTC for many years, most recently as a member of the board and chair of its education committee.

“I am grateful to the Council Board for entrusting me with this leadership role at such an important time for the organization.  Technology is a huge economic driver in New Hampshire, and education helps drive technology.  I plan to use my experience in both sectors to help advance the organization and assist workforce and economic development goals across the state,” Cookson said.  “In addition, I want to thank the City of Manchester for providing financial support through its revolving loan fund to help launch my new company and relocate it to downtown Manchester.”

The NHHTC and CSC will be located on the second floor at 36 Lowell Street, directly above Richard’s Bistro. The space is being completely renovated to accommodate meetings and small events, as well as for office space.

“We are excited to have the High Tech Council become an active and visible part of the Manchester business community, and about CSC relocating to the downtown area.  This move serves as a great example of Greater Manchester’s growing role as a technological hub of New Hampshire.  The Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) was established for the express purposes of expanding business in the city, and the loan we made to CSC essentially brought in two business entities for the price of one,” said Jay Minkarah, director of the Manchester Economic Development Office.

Cookson Stephens Corporation was born out of a partnership in 2010 between Matt Cookson and Carol Stephens. This partnership saw Cookson join Stephens’ firm, CC Stephens & Co., as president. In November, Cookson took over the company and changed the name.   

Cookson has held several senior level communications positions over the past 25 years, the last 15 in New Hampshire. From 2005-2010, he served as associate vice chancellor for external relations at the University System of New Hampshire.

He has previously worked for New England College, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, PC Connection, and the University of Connecticut. He has also provided consulting services to numerous organizations and worked in government affairs in Connecticut, Washington DC and New Hampshire.

Cookson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Connecticut and is a 2003 Leadership New Hampshire Associate. In 2009, he was named as one of the “25 Leaders of the Future” by Business NH Magazine. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of New Hampshire – Manchester, where he teaches public relations courses.

A Great Opportunity to “Stay, Work & Play”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Now more than ever, states are working diligently to keep their best and brightest talent right at home. Thankfully, in New Hampshire, there is a new initiative that has made youth retention top priority.

With that in mind, we have some great news to share as the temporary Stay Work Play web site is now live at www.stayworkplay.org.  Our good friend Matt Cookson at the University System of New Hampshire has been a tremendous leader on this project and is currently seeking to feature content on the planned permanent site that includes stories, images and video of individual’s stories.  This is the ongoing effort that is building on the 55% Initiative and encouraging more young workers to look carefully at NH as a place to stay, work, and play.   The temporary site was designed to hold background information on the SWP organization as it works toward building the larger site and launching it later this year.   

stay-work-playDesigned as a destination site for the 20-30 year old market, this website will include robust content around the three major themes, links to employment tools and opportunities, and social marketing tools and services. The group wants to include as much original content in this site as possible.  As a result, they are soliciting content suggestions through their Facebook group called “Stay Work Play NH”.  They are encouraging people to post on this group page brief testimonials about why they chose to settle in NH and what they like best about the state, photos of them in one of their favorite NH places or doing one of their favorite activities in the state, and links to videos posted on You Tube that showcase something special about NH.  Please consider joining the group, posting content, and sharing this with others.  Content and linkages can also be sent directly to Matt Cookson at matt.cookson@usnh.edu. Great job Matt and company!

A Great Day for Sociability

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

About four months ago, I was invited to poke my head in a meeting which would ultimately change the way that our Division conducts its business outreach.

allen-and-laniAt the meeting, I was introduced to Allen and Lani Voivod, a young couple with a Lakes Region-based social marketing firm called Epiphanies, Inc. (www.epiphaniesinc.com) I was intrigued by their thought process and their passion for the power of social media in bringing people together. They seemed to be the type of entrepreneurial, forwarding thinking people who could infuse some new energy into our marketing efforts.

In a lot of ways, the first couple of meetings with Allen and Lani reminded me of the X-Men movie where the mutant students are gathered at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning. They were superheroes of the highest power, with the ability to throw out creative thoughts and not to dismiss any concept, no matter how impossible it sounded. They would not be constrained by red tape or logistical hardships, nor would they accept the premise that positive action couldn’t be achieved. They wouldn’t let “the man” get them down. Clearly, I had found a pair of kindred spirits.

Fast forward to the present – we now have a fully operational blog, a Twitter account and a presence on Facebook. We also celebrated the success of the First Annual Social Media Business Summit, a standing room only event that took place at Public Service of New Hampshire (www.psnh.com) yesterday.


It was entirely fitting that the first summit was held at a facility called “Energy Park” because the atmosphere in the room was nothing short of electric. Ideas were generated, information was shared and all attendees left the event ready to incorporate social media into their companies’ communications strategies.

I’d like to thank Allen and Lani for their hard work as well as moderator Mo Bresee (www.mobresee.com) and logistical expert Leslie Sturgeon (www.wiwnh.com) for crafting a fabulous day. Thanks also to Public Service of New Hampshire (especially Pat McDermott and Nancy Rheinhardt) for their generous sponsorship and to the “Stay, Work and Play” initiative (especially Matt Cookson from the University System of NH -(http://www.usnh.edu/initiatives/55_swpincentive.shtml) for their partnership.

If you haven’t do so already, please further our social media efforts by signing up for our blog as well as our Twitter and Facebook accounts. Information is POWER.

– Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director

The Future of NH Rocks!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

I know that many people furrow their brows and worry about the future of our state but I’m not amongst them. That’s probably because I had the benefit of being a judge at yesterday’s Social Entrepreneurship Student Leadership Challenge event at the Radisson in Manchester.

Each of the high school and college teams was tasked with developing creative solutions to challenges facing the Granite State and to say that these teams were creative would be like saying that Amy Winehouse likes a good party. In short, these young people had a passion for ideas and a tremendous will to improve their communities, their state and their planet.

One team looked at the beautification of a neglected outdoor area at their school, another wanted to share information about the spread of Lyme Disease and another sought to build inclusion of children with disabilities into the mainstream student population. All of the teams made their presentations with the flair of public relations professionals who had been promoting their ideas for years.

Congratulations to the students who took part in yesterday’s events, to the teachers, parents and friends who supported them throughout the competition and to the folks who inspired them to community service and entrepreneurship along the way. Special thanks to SESL Executive Director Elizabeth Foy and University System of NH Associate Vice Chancellor of External Relations Matt Cookson for their excellent work in creating an event that all of New Hampshire can be proud of.

The future of New Hampshire in doubt? Hardly…..

 – Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director