North Country organizations collaborate on workforce housing

Initiative seeks to identify recruitment tools and resources

Bienvenue Au New HampshireSix chambers of commerce in the White Mountains region are collaborating with Ski New Hampshire and the White Mountain Attractions Association to identify new workforce markets and launch a housing campaign to support the tourist economy of the region.

The effort, they say is focused on the recruitment of new residents to come to work, play, and live, and identifying barriers to reaching out to them. Among the factors that make for an employee shortage in the region are a lack of reasonably priced places to live or even identifying what jobs are potentially available in the region.

The objective of the Workforce Collaborative, according to spokesman Marti Mayne “is to identify potential recruitment tools and workforce resources for the fall and winter seasons.”

After that, they’ll “develop those tools to increase the number of applications the business community in the White Mountains can consider for part-time, full-time, year-round and seasonal employment. In addition, the collaborative will develop and communicate the ‘NH Advantage’ experience to motivate new recruits to come to New Hampshire for an employment opportunity,”

The collaborative is funded through the state’s Chamber of Commerce Partnership Assistance Fund, created to reward collaborative efforts among chambers that were ineligible for other rounds of CARES Act funding.

In-migration trend

Covid-19 has placed added restrictions on visas for workers in the hotels and ski resorts and other issues which have led to a workforce shortage.

The pandemic has had some benefits in the form of people moving into the region, but that might drive up costs. People now no longer need to work from a corporate office in a major city and live in a suburb, and there is a bit of urban flight rippling through the state, particularly in resort areas where all workers need is a solid internet connection.

There has been a significant jump in school enrollment in resort towns like Waterville Valley, which has more than tripled the number of students in its school, but it is unknown whether this is a short-term move.

Regardless, real estate agents across the northern half of the state say there are many people who would like to move here but are limited by a lack of housing on the market.

The group has been contacted by students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst who are remotely learning and seeking jobs in the White Mountains, Mayne said.

Housing is being sought for these students in local homes, much like traditional exchange students.

Kathleen Flammia of the Jackson Area Chamber of Commerce and Janice Crawford of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce are spearheading the Workforce Collaborative & Housing Needed Campaign. Those interested in offering housing to help the study can contact Janice Crawford at Janice@mtwashingtonvalley.org.

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