Each day Senators receive an email from press secretary Anne Saunders letting us know what meetings are being held in the State House and Legislative Office Building the next day. On several days over the last month, Anne has reported "no meetings scheduled" reflecting the quiet that has descended on Concord as legislators enjoy their summer off.
There are still important activities to report. The governor, for example, has asked department heads to present him with budgets for the next two years with a 5 percent reduction in spending. One of his opponents has called for a 10 percent cut and argues he proposed his cuts before the Governor did.
The important point is that government in New Hampshire is going to have constrained spending and likely will be smaller in terms of expenditures than it has been in the past. June revenue met the budget plan and it looks like the fiscal year that ended on June 30 will have a shortfall of revenue of about $85 million … less than the $120 million gap predicted in early June.
No one is suggesting that revenue growth is going to happen soon. In fact, the $300 million budget fix that the legislature passed on June 9 already shows signs of falling apart. There was an expectation that the federal government would be sending New Hampshire $48 million of "enhanced" Medicaid money. The Congress has a different idea for now, and many suggest the Congress will not appropriate the added Medicaid funds the budget fix depends upon.
There have been some bits of good news on the New Hampshire economy. The June unemployment rate dropped one-half percent to 5.9 percent putting our state’s unemployment rate about 40 percent below the national average. June was the fourth straight month that saw a fall in the unemployment rate.
On the real estate side, the real estate transfer tax continued its positive trend in June and for the year produced $84.5 million, almost hitting the budget goal. Real estate activity can be a key indicator of the overall health of the economy.
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Last week provided an opportunity for me to participate in some celebratory events. Carl Bannon is the 2010 award recipient of the Lilla McLane-Bradley Award presented by the West Central Behavioral Health agency’s board of directors. To be successful in their mission of meeting the mental health needs of the region, West Central counts on partners who also provide services to the community.
The Claremont Housing Authority celebrated their 40th anniversary of providing affordable housing to the greater Claremont area. With 98 units of housing that is high quality, safe and affordable at the Marion L. Phillips Apartments on Broad Street, the authority also provides about 140 units of housing in the community in partnership with the federal government’s program for low income families.
At the celebration lunch, I noted that today we take subsidized housing for granted. But only a few decades ago, many low income people, especially the elderly, often had very few options. Now a person can look forward, if they qualify, to have the opportunity to live in a suitable home. In 1970, the people in Claremont who put the housing authority together certainly had a long view of the potential impact of housing for low income families.
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What does a successful economic development effort mean to a community?
In the case of Red River Computer’s move to Claremont, it means jobs being located in the downtown mill area often filled by young men and women with top level technical and management skills. That has a positive economic impact on the community.
For Red River, they are more than just a local employer, From day one, the company has been an active member of the community participating in organizations and philanthropic activities. One of their initiatives is the Red River Technology Foundation which promotes technology knowledge, education and interest among area students.
The foundation provides scholarships to students majoring in technology, donates IT equipment to schools, hosts technology workshops and helps shape technology curriculum at the college level. The company and its foundation work closely with River Valley College.
Last week, the foundation held its fourth annual golf tournament to raise money for scholarships. Not only is it fun to play in the tournament, but while riding with Ed Mangini, the company’s chief financial officer, I learned about the company’s operations and its employee team. Some of the money raised was awarded in the form of a scholarship to Travis Blain. Travis is a recent graduate of Stevens High School with a serious interest in technology which he will pursue as a student this fall at River Valley College.
Having Red River headquartered in our area demonstrates the potential full impact of economic development. First must be the jobs, but through efforts like the scholarships, for example, the company is helping to improve the lives of students and building future leaders in our area.
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