July 26, 2007


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Publisher's Note: We need more under-30s
By Jody Reese

Whenever I meet a recent New Hampshire immigrant under the age of 30 I asked what brought them to our great state. The answer is almost always “I came with my husband/girlfriend/wife/boyfriend.” Rarely do I meet the young person who just chooses our state because they love it.

While it’s great that our folks can wrangle a few youngsters to move up here, the family-reuniting immigration pattern clearly isn’t enough to keep us growing — we need more young people to move here.

Southern New Hampshire is in a perfect geographical position to grow. We’re close to Boston and world-class outdoor activities, and have lots of open space. So why aren’t large employers moving up here in droves?

From talking to economic development people, it seems the reason is people. We don’t have enough of them. Specifically, we don’t have enough people under 30. Bringing in large employers would do wonders for our local economy. These companies’ payrolls and need for local contractors would ripple through the business community, creating growth in almost all sectors. With effective smart growth we could add many more large businesses without eating up much of our countryside.

So then how do we get more of these under-30 folks to leave Boston, Providence, Atlanta and Phoenix to come here?

A group of younger professionals in Manchester might have helped to find the answer. Tired of not having a group that connected them, a dozen or so in Manchester got together to form the Manchester Young Professionals Network. The group grew into the hundreds, and now it has spread to Nashua and Concord. These groups help connect the under-30 crowd (even though many are over 30). Nothing is more attractive to young people than other young people, making the young professional networks great tools for attracting new people to the state.

But who or what group is leveraging these groups to bring in younger workers, or is there even a group trying to bring in these folks?

Really no one at this point. The state has an economic development office as do many of the larger towns and cities in the southern part of the state, but none of these groups has an active program to attract new workers to the state.

Perhaps the state, in conjunction with the area chambers of commerce, could put together a volunteer committee to lay out a plant to recruit more under-30 workers. At some point they could raise some money for a recruitment campaign.

On top of that we should be encouraging more entertainment options, including bars and restaurants. As it is, state rules make it difficult and expensive to get a liquor license or open a wine store. These rules should be simplified.

Whatever we do, we need to do something to change the graying trend here and there’s no time like now to get things starteds.