New Hampshire must invest in its future

The New Hampshire economy has a major problem. The unemployment rate in most parts of the state is effectively zero. Hotels, restaurants and service companies struggle to find dependable long-term employees. And there’s an economic cost to that — driving businesses out of the Granite State.

While the situation is complex, the solution doesn’t have to be. New Hampshire is a rapidly aging state that exports young people to good jobs in other places. If we acknowledge the crisis for what it is and look at the costs then some solutions become apparent.

We need to invest more in education on all levels. There’s no reason why our public universities have to be so expensive. New Hampshire students go to study in other states and never come back to live here. And we need to invest in the bridge between high school and college. Too many Granite State students don’t end up pursuing higher education. Many who do find themselves ill-prepared. Which means we need to invest more in public education in New Hampshire. Not just in STEM, but in STEAM. Including the arts is a proven way to open students’ minds to creative thinking and help them find ways to apply knowledge to the real world.

As we invest billions in highways, we need to also invest in public transportation. Millennials don’t love cars, but they do love public transportation. It’s no wonder that the real estate market on the Seacoast leads the state. There are three Downeaster stops on the Seacoast. We need passenger rail and we need service between urban centers. We need to invest in electric charging stations in the core of our cities, too. These are not trends but real issues as we lose people and jobs to the booming Boston market.

Workforce housing is crucial to have a workforce. Rents for young people can be discouraging. If companies can’t find affordable housing for their workers they’re not going to invest in New Hampshire. We need to rethink how the housing market looks at the future, including an aging population, and invest in smart zoning and projects that will make us a leader.

Jayme Henriques Simões is president of Louis Karno & Company Communications, Concord.

Categories: Opinion