A new approach to economic development in NH


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Last year, Governor Sununu proposed dividing the Department of Resources and Economic Development and creating the Department of Business and Economic Affairs. Since its creation, this new agency has been a catalyst for increasing opportunities for New Hampshire to modernize and vastly improve the focus and practice of how we do economic development.

This couldn’t have happened at a better time. The practice of economic development has changed drastically over the past decade. States and cities are moving away from the longstanding focus on government-run business recruitment and standard worker “unemployment training” programs that gave little thought to what might come next for those workers.

What does this mean for New Hampshire?

It means we can hone in on the needs of our businesses here first, and leverage our business community with our state’s regional strengths to develop a compelling case for new businesses to come here.

It means we build new, more innovative strategies to recruit talent to our state.

It means connecting education and training directly to employers and jobs.

It means a new, more aggressive entry into the global marketplace to find opportunity for our small businesses seeking new markets.

It means refreshed, meaningful relationships with our state’s incredible network of public and private academic institutions, linking them with state policymakers and business leaders statewide.

It means working to update and increase the predictability of the state’s regulatory environment and use our small and agile government as a true advantage.

It means constructing new partnerships and collaborations across a broad universe of stakeholders to focus on building communities where people want to live and work and telling that story effectively and to as many people outside the state as we can.

New Hampshire’s economy is growing fast. Companies are expanding or moving here, and people are working. In fact, in 2017, New Hampshire’s economy was the second fastest growing economy in the nation and our unemployment rate remains low.

My goal is to build this new system and create an economy that is resilient, vibrant, collaborative, intentional and protects what we love best about New Hampshire.

The new Department of Business and Economic Affairs has the tools it needs to get there. We have the widely respected Division of Travel and Tourism Development, which has a marketing team that is among the best in the nation and stokes the engine of New Hampshire’s crucial hospitality economy. In 2017, its work helped generate 2.23 million visitor trips to New Hampshire, which yielded $5.5 billion in spending, maintaining 48,000 jobs, and generating $269 million in tax revenue for the state.

Our Division of Economic Development helps businesses connect to, and fund, job training; works with existing and new business leaders to finance and expand their economic footprint; guides companies seeking to access global markets or win government contracts, and helps drive our entrepreneurial economy. Its work has direct impact on the profitability of our state’s employers and creates value for the state and residents.

The combined teams are creating new stakeholder collaborations, integrating marketing efforts and strategies and working hard to establish New Hampshire as a leader in holistic, collaborative state economic development.

Taylor Caswell is commissioner of the NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs.

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