Local Economic Development - You're Not Alone
In addition to contributing financially, small businesses often help define the identity and economic health of a city or town.
However, most New Hampshire municipalities can’t afford the luxury of an economic development staff that can identify the needs of existing business owners and cultivate new opportunities for businesses investment in their community. Dedicated volunteers often help fill this void by their service on local economic development committees or commissions. These local volunteers try to remain current with the assortment of programs, services, and opportunities available to help their local businesses. It is a daunting challenge for volunteers to remember, not to mention understand, how the targeted programs provided by federal, state, and regional agencies work together to help support those same business owners in your municipality.
Luckily, there are some resources available both from the state and the federal government. At the state level, there are regional loan programs and business incubators administered through 10 regional economic development corporations covering the state. The New Hampshire Division of Economic Development (NHDED) provides help through job-training grants and financing programs. NHDED can also help small companies find export opportunities and provide hands-on help for small businesses owners to sell their goods and services to state, municipal, and federal agencies. For example, in 2014 New Hampshire small businesses received over $700 million in direct federal contracts.
On the federal level, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) works with local banks to help small businesses obtain access to the capital they need. The SBA also has valuable partners who provide free individual business planning advice and counsel to business owners as they get started or face particular opportunities or threats. These partners include the volunteers of SCORE, a nonprofit association comprised of more than 13,000 business volunteers nationally and which has six active chapters in New Hampshire; the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center with full-time business counselors and a nationally-recognized online training program, and the newest addition of the SBA Women’s Business Center in Nashua.
New Hampshire is extremely fortunate that all the regional, state, and federal agencies work together and share information on a regular basis. This means that municipal leaders, volunteers and business owners don’t need to know the “right” agency or program that can help address the needs of businesses in your city or town. When you contact the SBA, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, or your regional economic development corporation, all agencies will help connect you and/or your businesses in your community find the help they need.
Information is available online at:
SBA New Hampshire District Office:– www.sba.gov/nh
NH Division of Economic Development: www.nheconomy.com
NH Regional Economic Development Alliance http://www.redc.com/nh_alliance.php
NH Small Business Development Center: www.nhsbdc.org
SBA Women’s Business Center: www.cweonling.org
NH SCORE Chapters: Conway – https://Mtwashington.score.org 603-447-4388
Keene – https://Monadnock.score.org 603-352-0320
Laconia – https://Lakesregion.score.org 603-524-0137
Lebanon – https://Uppervalley.score.org 603-44-3491
Manchester – https://Merrimackvalley.score.org 603-666-7561
Portsmouth – https://Seacoast.score.org 603-433-0575
Hugh Curley is a member of the Town of Epsom Select Board and works as an economic development specialist at the New Hampshire office of the SBA in Concord. Hugh may be reached at the SBA offices by telephone 603-225-1402 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.