Publisher's Note: Worse to good
By Jody Reese
With the cost of fuel and food rising and the economy on pins and needles, it’s not surprising that this year’s budgets will be some of the toughest to negotiate in recent years.
In Nashua, the teachers union finally agreed to take no pay increases to get a deal inked. In Manchester, Mayor Frank Guinta has proposed cutting $9 million from what the school board requested. At the state level, the shortfall for this year could be $100 million and that doesn’t include the next budget, which will have to be trimmed substantially.
It’s all looking pretty depressing. Either we get reduced government services or we pay higher property taxes. Neither seems all that appetizing. Add to that the fact that inflation is growing and eating into incomes, which are unlikely to keep pace. Making that inflation even more frightening is the very good chance that the entire country is slipping into a major recession.
So is it time to pack our bags and head to Mexico? Hardly.
Whereas the recession of the early 1990s hit this region extremely hard, wiping out banks and the last hairs of manufacturing, this time around we’re ready for a slowdown.
Southern New Hampshire’s economy is now broad-based. We don’t have any one dominant industry to pull us down. We don’t have thousand-tract home subdivisions sitting unsold.
Though times are difficult and we face many challenges (including what to do about schools), we’re in a good position to face this recession.
Most important in this slowdown will be what our local banks and governments do to encourage growth.
For example, Fair Point is asking for a property-tax break to bring hundreds of jobs to downtown Manchester. There has been some hemming and hawing. In this case, we should pass the cut and get those jobs downtown.
Democracy in training
Former Belize ambassador George Bruno recently shepherded a new group of democracy-builders from the east. Bruno organizes a program to encourage democracy in the former Soviet Union republics. Last week a delegation from Uzbekistan visited to learn about emergency preparedness. One of the visit’s main purposes was for them to learn how to warn people in a disaster to leave their homes and seek safe ground — a challenge even in a country as wired as ours.
Another goal for the program is to encourage a respect between the former republics and this country. It’s this kind of program that helps create trust between us and our allies abroad. A most important aspect of diplomacy is knowledge of each other’s countries.
Bruno reported that many in the delegation felt their view of this country was changed for the better by the visit.
Like any good sales organization, America needs to keep selling itself, making contacts and converting the non-buyers to customers. After all, the business of America is business.