CONCORD, NH – Governor Chris Sununu met with 127 businesses during his first 100 days in office to have substantive discussions about New Hampshire’s strong fundamentals, including quality of life, community involvement, and low tax base. A major goal was to better understand their needs, while communicating his plans to truly tap New Hampshire’s potential as an economic driver.
“I am a firm believer that we have not truly tapped into the potential that we once had in being, not just a driver of the economy, but known as a place to land your business, known as a place to land your career, when we talk about workforce,” Sununu said. “We have to be on the forefront of people’s minds. The best way to do that is to get out there and do it the New Hampshire way. You talk to people one-on-one, you sit with them one-on-one… Making that direct connection can make all the difference in the world in terms of either retaining or bringing business to New Hampshire.”
During his first 100 days in office, Governor Sununu met with business leaders from seven countries and 23 states, a majority of which were from northeastern states and Quebec, but included business leaders from states as far away as California and Texas. The discussions focused on removing regulations and strengthening education, among other things.
Sununu said the first goal of the initiative was to meet with 100 out-of-state businesses – not a “magic number” but rather a symbolic gesture to show NH’s commitment to economic development.
The resulting report issued Thursday by Sununu outlines takeaways and insights, summarized below:
- Regulation: NH is one of the most “over-regulated” states, citing our state’s “50 licensing boards, and over 120,000 professionals requiring licenses. “And we have a rules structure that can stifle the growth of our businesses,” said Sununu in the report
- Education: As a foundation for tomorrow’s workforce, Sununu pledged to expand on partnerships between universities and businesses, and proposes a scholarship program for those attending universities, community colleges and training programs.
- Opiate Crisis: Sununu says this is our state’s No. 1 priority and greatest challenge, and vows to work toward making NH workplaces more “recovery friendly.”
- Taxes: NH must do better at tooting its own horn for it’s high ranking as a tax-friendly state: “New Hampshire ranks 7th in the nation in the Tax Foundation’s 2017 State Business Tax Climate Index. Perception is not reality. We need to make businesses aware that New Hampshire is a friendly place to business, and we are taking steps to be even better,” says Sununu.
- Infrastructure: Although Sununu talks about maintaining roadways and bridges, there’s no mention of commuter rail, which is a topic of interest to many existing NH businesses.
- Quality of Life: The key to the future is attracting and retaining millennials, and Sununu says he’s committed to supporting efforts to make NH more attractive, citing our notable rankings: The US News and World Report’s Best States Ranking rated New Hampshire the No. 2 best state in the nation. That same report ranked New Hampshire No. 1 in Opportunity, No. 3 in Education, and No. 4 in Health Care.
- Access to Government: Sununu says NH does well in providing access, and needs to make sure businesses outside the state realize this.
- Energy Rates: This was a recurring theme in conversations with businesses. Sununu cited NH current energy rates, which are approximately 60 percent higher than the national average. Sununu says NH must “lower electricity costs and remove the volatile price spikes in our wholesale rates.”
- Right-to-work: Sununu cited several businesses who said they would not move to a “non-right to work state” such as NH, and maintains that right to work is a key piece of the state’s future economic puzzle.
“Our first hundred days in office are over, but our commitment to economic and workforce development is only at its beginning,” Governor Sununu said. “We will continue to listen and to learn. We will continue to promote and to develop. And we will never stop emphasizing that New Hampshire is open for business, open for workers, and open for opportunity.”
Read the full report below.