September 6, 2007

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Publisher's Note: Change is good
By Jody Reese

Successful businesses know that to survive they must change.

IBM no longer sells laptops or PCs. Apple now sells music players and music downloads. The same goes for governments.

Southern New Hampshire is in a great position to continue to grow — and grow smart. Our close proximity to Boston and to the Manchester airport coupled with the high quality of living (low crime, good schools, clean environment) make this one of those places that has the potential to really explode.

But to do that we need to change.

We need to open up more land for corporate parks, start investing more — not less — in our schools and, most of all, take a regional approach to economic development. A company moving to Merrimack is good for Manchester, Nashua, Milford and Derry.

There is no regional economic development group nor a regional chamber group — no cooperation between towns. Some of the larger communities, such as Manchester and Nashua, have their own economic development departments; some smaller ones have the planning director handle that job. The state’s department of economic development has its hands full with more economically depresses areas, such as northern and western New Hampshire.

In each community, the person responsible for attracting new business views other towns as competitors to that new property tax base. Each town wants the corporate campus built in their town. And with good reason.

Communities get 80 percent of their revenue from property taxes. That means that towns want a huge building valued at $100 million with no employees in it — so there are no new kids increase the cost of schools. This type of taxation almost guarantees that towns won’t work together. Why would they?

While changing the property tax structure would be good for business in southern New Hampshire, it’s more change than we can expect in the next decade. So in the meantime, it would be helpful if our town and city governments convened a monthly economic development forum to see if these communities can work together.

These meetings could include land development issues. For example, how do Candia’s rules on lots sizes effect Sanddown? And how can these communities along Route 101 work to develop a corporate park in Deerfield?

Get your Greek on
OK folks, it’s happened again, you’ve almost wasted a perfectly good weekend without eating great Greek food and seeing friends and neighbors. Next weekend, Sept. 14 to 16, is Glendi, the festival that puts the baklava in Manchester.

If you have never been — and I know a few of you haven’t — take this opportunity to queue up and enjoy Hippo’s readers’ pick for best festival. There’s the food, the dancing, the crafts, the food and of course, the people.

Glendi is a great place to see people you haven’t seen in a few years and to make new friends. You don’t have to be Greek to attend; it’s a great Manchester community gathering. Don’t miss it.