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Smiles Lead to Business Development

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

To start off your day on a high note, I thought I’d share this excellent article written by Tom West that appeared in today’s Nashua Telegraph. It details NH Division of Economic Development Business Development Manager Michael Bergeron’s remarks to the Hudson Board of Selectmen on how to make their community more attractive to site selectors and businesses looking for a new home.

Development Official Advises Smiles Matter

Selectmen received some common sense tips on economic development from a state official who said a simple smile from a Town Hall employee could make the difference for a company contemplating a move to Hudson.

Michael Bergeron of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development gave the board a 30-minute tutorial on the best ways to woo business in a stagnant economy.

bergeron1Bergeron said some companies will send an employee into the Town Hall of a community they’re thinking of moving to just to see what kind of impression the staff makes.

“A smile can make all the difference,’’ he said, recounting how he visited one town and couldn’t get a worker behind a plate of bullet-proof glass to even look at him.

According to Assistant Town Administrator Mark Person, officials have made economic development No. 1 on their to-do list for 2010.

In an effort to fill Sagamore Industrial Park on Route 3A and the Clement Road Industrial Park along Route 111, the parks have been designated as Economic Revitalization Zones. The program allows for businesses within the parks to receive tax credits when expanding, Pearson said.

The program stopped taking applications Jan. 29, but two local companies have applied for credits or loans available through the state, he said.

What Hudson needs to remember, Bergeron said, is companies aren’t interested in towns where municipal boards are constantly bickering and building regulations so onerous that its seems to take forever to get anything done.

“That’s not going to fly today,’’ he said.

Networking is essential between the town, the local Chamber of Commerce and neighboring communities, he said, adding that a good Web site is an integral part of marketing any municipality.

The Hudson Web site, which the town recently upgraded with a new focus on economic development, is effective, he said, but “it needs refreshment in terms of town images,’’ that reflect the local quality of life.

The town has a beautiful new library and good schools, he said, that are assets the town needs to project via the Internet and social media, such as Facebook.

“Quality of life is a great asset for the town of Hudson,’’ Bergeron said, “and you need to keep a positive attitude and not apologize for the things that are not your strength.’’

As an example, he used the small town of Colebrook, 10 miles from the Canadian border, which he says is always coming up with ideas for growth, despite constant struggles.

“They’re always calling, saying, We’ve got a great idea, What you think?’ Bergeron said. “Instead of saying, ‘What can you do for me,’ they say, ‘look at what we can do for you.’ ’’