Publisher's Note: Creative economy
By Jody Reese
While we’re not skating out of this thing unscathed, New Hampshire has fared much better during this economic downturn than any of the states around us.
Our unemployment rate is 6.2 percent compared to more than 10 percent in Rhode Island and more than 8 percent in Massachusetts. When the reporter for the Manchester Express went down to Southern New Hampshire University to talk to those hordes of jobs seekers, he found that most of them were from out of state.
So what does New Hampshire have going for it? Small businesses and a growing creative economy.
This week’s cover story explores part of that work by looking into our great mill buildings to see a growing world of business and art. It helps that our state government is less invasive than most and that rents are still cheaper here than in states to the south.
Another important factor is education. We have the New Hampshire Institute of Art, a growing college in Manchester, and Chester College, also a growing college that focuses on the arts. Add the fact that New Hampshire has a strong series of state and private schools, including Dartmouth, and we’re moving in the right direction.
While New Hampshire’s primary and secondary schools have struggled with funding issues, many of them are very good — including the larger urban schools in Manchester and Nashua. Kids from those schools go off to many of the Ivy League schools — and Hippo’s associate publisher Jeff Rapsis attended Nashua High School (when there was only one) and went on to Fordham University in New York.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that we can’t forget that education is one of the most important elements in economic development available to a company and a government. Sometimes we forget. We need a school system that is child-focused and that means the two sides – our elected officials and the teachers — need to find common ground to make sure we’re doing all we can to push our kids to the next level.
A proposal in Manchester recently to cut the school week down to four days seems like a bad start to this needed discussion. In some countries, kids go to school on Saturday too — and we’re considering a four-day week.
Of course staying student-focused isn’t easy. For example, towns may have to accept an increase in school costs again this year, but teachers and staff should seriously consider a wage freeze. We should look at extending school days and increasing recesses.
That said, the news for New Hampshire is mostly good. Our schools are some of the best in New England and our students clearly demonstrate that — as does our 6.2 percent unemployment rate.
Education is one of the most important tools for economic development; let’s be sure we remember it in bad times as well as good.