Concord has been rated one of the safest and best places to live, not only in New Hampshire, but in the country.
Years of effort by the state, chambers of commerce and young professionals’ networks to promote New Hampshire as an ideal place for growing families, new and expanding businesses, and young people seeking an ideal place to work and live have achieved real results: The 2020 U.S. Census reported a net gain in migration among people under the age of 30, along with significant increases for those in their thirties. An average of 8,300 more people moved into the state each of the last four years than moved out of it, with the biggest increase in people under the age of 30 according to a recent study. This is significant for a state known for its aging population and appeal to a ‘silver tsunami’ of retirees.
This influx of new families, students, young professionals and entrepreneurs is an important investment in our future. As New Hampshire recovers from the pandemic, a skilled workforce will be ready to step into a new period of growth and opportunity.
But before we congratulate ourselves on a job well-done, there is a crucial and time-sensitive next step—getting these individuals to stay.
As the state capital Chamber, we’ve had a seat for important conversations centered around New Hampshire’s initial and continued appeal for young people: expanding diversity, the importance of available rental housing and starter homes, and an abundance of cultural offerings so newcomers can form lasting connections with peers and their communities. We’re excited to see important work and investments happening in all these areas.
Stay Work Play’s ongoing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) series, sponsored by Greater Concord Chamber members Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, will feature young entrepreneurs of color on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m., discussing the challenges and opportunities these individuals have faced starting and growing businesses in the Granite State. Register to attend and hear first-hand how our communities can create a more welcoming and supportive environment for people of color.
On January 13, Concord Young Professionals Network partnered with Stay Work Play for Matters of State, a policy roundtable series that virtually connected local legislators with their under-40 constituents to discuss vital issues young people face in the Capital region and potential policy solutions. With a nearly 50% increase in under-40 legislators elected to serve their communities in November, this well-timed programming provided those who have stepped up to serve with important dialogue specific to what actions taken by the state, in areas like workforce housing, could make New Hampshire a lifelong choice for the next generation (and their descendants).
Another area of importance for young professionals and families: things to do. Concord’s arts and entertainment venues have been much more than just a ‘cool’ addition to the city’s revitalization in recent years—they’ve been the engine powering it. A 2017 Arts & Economic Prosperity Study reported that nonprofit cultural institutions in Greater Concord supported more than 950 jobs and total industry expenditures amounted to nearly $31.2 million dollars annually in the Greater Concord region alone. Of note, the entire for-profit creative sector and the ripple effect of local spending at hotels, restaurants, shopping, etc., were not included. The devastating impact of COVID-19 on the live event entertainment industry threatens not just our creative economy and multiple industries that are connected with it, but our ability to draw and keep urban and culture-starved rural newcomers who rightly consider these kinds of amenities a must-have in their local community.
While New Hampshire has long held great appeal to those who love the outdoors, there is great opportunity to diversify through the arts.
Save Our Stages legislation passed as part of the recent COVID-19 Relief Package will buy hard hit live venues, independent movie theaters and cultural institutions some time. But there is more work to be done to ensure that these institutions, along with live venues in the sporting industry aided by Governor Sununu’s Live Venue Relief Program grants this fall, can remain a vibrant part of drawing newcomers seeking big cultural and live entertainment offerings without the big city hassle.
With remote work options now a reality due to the pandemic, many more will choose NH, creating a silver-lining tsunami. Let’s be ready—by addressing these challenges, a new generation will proudly call the Granite State home.
Photo: An audience enjoys jamAntics' 2018 show at Bank of New Hampshire Stage in downtown Concord before the onset of COVID-19 shut down the live performance industry. Courtesy of JP Morse Images.
Tim Sink is the President of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce. Read his posts at ConcordNHChamber.com/blog.