Publisher's Note: Lets get creative
By Jody Reese
There’s no doubt September and October are going to go down as some of the toughest economic times in recent memory. Local car dealers are reporting low auto sales for both new and used, and home sales have been minimal.
But as I wrote last week, not all is lost. Banks will still loan out money, though perhaps not as freely as they once did, and people still have jobs and still spend money. That said, there’s no need for the business community and local government’s economic development offices to let things work themselves out. Let’s get ahead of things and work together to safeguard our southern New Hampshire economy.
Of course, we can’t divorce ourselves from the national economy, but we can muster a lot of local resources, public and private, to give businesses and their employees the tools to succeed in these trying times.
Now with Rockwell on Elm Street in Manchester laying off 175 people from good manufacturing jobs, what are we going to do to? Should we be helping them find work, helping them open small businesses, offering them training or all of the above?
It’s not enough to throw our hands up in the air and expect the state to offer them unemployment benefits.
There are small businesses teetering on the edge. What can we do as a business community to help them stay in business?
On the government front, a recent independent study says there is a need for a conference center in downtown Manchester. It could be both a performing arts center and conference center for visitors. While it might be a tough sell to use city or state dollars to finance this type of project, it should be seriously considered. It could help jump-start property values and over time pay back the city and region, just as the Verizon Wireless Arena has done. It would also send a message to developers that southern New Hampshire is still open to business and willing to invest in itself. The Elliot by the River project adds currency to that.
Business too needs to take a leadership role, perhaps through the various chambers of commerce in the area. What about a “No Credit Crunch Lunch” where bankers and small business come together to work toward a way to free up loans for local businesses? Or how about seminars on surviving a challenging economy?
This all takes leadership and I know that the various chamber presidents can offer that, as can the heads of economic development and planning offices in the larger southern New Hampshire communities. Perhaps, a sumit of public and private business leaders could lead to new programs and initiatives.
I’m not suggesting that all of our economic problems will be solved, just that as a community working together — and yes, Nashua, Concord, Manchester, Derry, Salem and Milford are all in the same community — can produce a better outcome for our local economy than if no one does anything or we all do our own thing.
Together we are better off.