New Hampshire has the kind of get-it-done reputation that many CEOs like, but can be hurt perceptually because it’s part of a Northeast region that historically has been more antithetical to business concerns.
The Granite State performed well in the 2018 Chief Executive “Best States / Worst States for Business” by climbing seven spots in the rankings from a year earlier, to No. 24, the best showing by far among the New England states.
Hitchiner Manufacturing has experienced both sides of the state’s attitude toward business. Based in Milford, N.H., the maker of investment castings for manufacturers employs 675 people in the state. The company wanted to expand but initially found it would be too expensive to do so in New Hampshire after adding up business taxes, state and local taxes, energy and construction costs. It had closed a plant in Littleton, N.H, in 2015, costing 100 jobs.
But CEO John Morrison III went to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and the state to work on a plan to keep Hitchiner’s future at home. He was able to obtain enough financial incentives – including a five-year property-tax abatement approved by a vote of the townspeople — to build the new foundry in Milford. Morrison promised an investment of $50 million in a new, 85,000-square-foot facility and 85 jobs.
“New Hampshire is small enough where it’s more of a community and there’s more of a work-together attitude than in many other states,” said Travis York, head of GYK Antler, a mid-market advertising agency with headquarters in Manchester, N.H., and two offices in Massachusetts. “It’s a blessing and a curse. A lot of folks are well-intentioned, but sometimes we don’t get as far as in a bigger market where people are trying to do bigger things.”
“New Hampshire is small enough where it’s more of a community and there’s more of a work-together attitude than in many other states.”
The unity behind economic-development efforts in New Hampshire was illustrated by the fact that the state made a single, consolidated pitch in response to the RFP issued by Amazon for the site of its “second headquarters.” Meanwhile, neighboring Massachusetts, for example, submitted many separate proposals as individual cities and areas competed against one another, York said.
New Hampshire’s continuing challenges include “a very low unemployment rate where we struggle to lure people from across the border in Massachusetts,” York said. “There’s a plethora of skilled jobs and for companies that pay well.”
he Granite State can pitch a low cost of living, lack of consumer sales or citizen income tax, and a “phenomenal” work-life balance, said York, whose agency handles New Hampshire’s economic-development work. “But there are false perceptions that if you’re not a logger or some sort of trade laborer, you’ve have a hard time finding a job here.”
Another, perhaps surprising, challenge for New Hampshire is that it has become known as what U.S. News & World Report called “Ground Zero for opioids.” The state ranks No. 2 in the nation for opioid-related deaths; President Trump even made an announcement about a federal anti-opioids initiative in Manchester earlier this year.
The complete listing for the Best and Worst States for Business can be found here.