MANCHESTER, N.H. – Although 2022 isn’t quite over, the 2022 Year in Review presentation given by the City of Manchester’s Economic Development Office (MEDO) on Tuesday night, certainly gave the impression of a full year’s accomplishments and then some, if the reaction from the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) was any indication.
The presentation was the primary agenda item on the BMA’s final meeting of the year, taking a look at the accomplishment that was reborn in February of 2022 after two-and-half years of dormancy.
While the MEDO is currently sustained by American Rescue Plan Act funding through the end of 2026, MEDO Director Jodie Nazaka and Assistant Director Erik Lesniak aimed to make the case to the BMA that their department should eventually become part of the city’s general fund operating budget once the federal funding runs out.
Over the past year, the MEDO has provided support for the Manchester Development Corporation, taken oversight duties of the Central Business Service District’s, updated the city’s 79E program and helped develop the city’s first-ever TIF District, renewing the city’s agreement with Bird scooters, providing marketing for Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and has overseen a request for proposals (RFP) for an upcoming branding initiative for the city.
The winning bid from that RFP, which closed on Tuesday, will become the centerpiece in a three-to-five-year initiative that Nazaka says will convey excitement and civic pride, which in turn will stimulate economic activity and improve the city’s quality of life.
Perhaps the biggest duty for the MEDO over the past year has been acting as a liaison between city government and local businesses, ranging from helping with ribbon-cutting ceremonies to providing information on any needed permits to helping connect businesses with services they may need, such as web design.
Ward 2 Alderman Will Stewart said the MEDO had a high return on investment and said that potential criticism of spending money on marketing initiatives instead of topics such as homelessness was unwarranted as he felt the city can simultaneously meet its immediate challenges as well as address broader challenges such as economic development as well.
Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long referenced Michael Ketchen of Commonwealth Collective LLC in his comments, a real estate developer that praised the MEDO during the meeting’s public comments section.
Ketchin said that he was about to sell all of his property in the city, but is now looking to buy more property in Manchester and aims to further develop Manchester Street thanks to the efforts of the MEDO.
“We’re very excited to help him see that vision,” replied Nazaka. “That’s a big part of our vision as well.”
A video from the presentation can be seen here.