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Two new incentives—one revived from the dead, the other still unborn—show promise for helping New Hampshire compete in a challenging economy.
As of this writing, New Hampshire has awarded employee training grants worth $387,000 to 11 companies in the state. The grants come from the Job Training Fund, which was reestablished in the fall of 2007. The 11 companies are spending an additional $700,000 on the training associated with the grants, which will collectively affect nearly 350 workers. (The amount of each grant is based in part on the amount each company spends on training from its own reserves.)
New Hampshire first established the Job Training Fund in 2001, and the first grants were approved in January 2002. In 19 months, 169 grants were awarded to more than 100 different companies, and nearly 5,400 workers were trained. Up to $1 million in matching grants will be available this fiscal year to allow companies to partner with the state to train new workers or retrain longtime employees.
A new Web site, www.nhjobtrainingfund.org, will assist companies in the grant application process.
“In every part of New Hampshire, business leaders tell me that they have the products, that they have the customers, but they need more skilled workers if their businesses are to stay and grow in New Hampshire,” says Governor John Lynch.
The latest companies to receive grants from the Job Training Fund are Smith Medical ASD Inc. of Keene, NH and Upper Valley Press of North Haverhill, NH. Smith Medical received a matching grant of $83,991.50 that will be used to train up to 101 employees at the company in a Technician Training Program, which will include courses in servicing hydraulic, pneumatic and electrical control systems. The company will provide over $228,000 in matching funds for the training.
Upper Valley Press will train 15 key employees in a variety of management areas. The company received a $7,500 grant from the Job Training Fund; the company will match that amount from its own pockets.
The grants match up to 100% of what a company spends on training. Ineligible training expenses for the purpose of matching funds include salaries, wages, bonuses, and benefits for employees in training; in-kind contributions; administrative or entertainment expenses; and costs resulting from violations of (or failure to comply with) federal, state, or local laws and regulations. A 10-member Job Training Grant Review Committee reviews the applications and makes recommendations to the state Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) Commissioner George Bald. The Workforce Opportunity Council administers the Job Training Fund for DRED.
Northern NH Tax Credit
Coos County—the county that forms the pointed northern tip of New Hampshire, sharing borders with Vermont, Maine, and Québec, Canada—has the chance to gain a new tool to attract business in January. A proposal backed by Gov. Lynch would give a business that creates a job in Coos County a $1,000 credit against its business taxes for each of the next five years, so long as the job pays at least twice the minimum wage. Most new businesses would pay no business taxes for their first five years. Existing businesses in Coos County would be eligible for new jobs they create. Businesses will be able to apply the tax credit to the Business Enterprise Tax, and any unused portion to the Business Profits Tax.
The county, part of what’s known locally as the North Country region, faces unique barriers to investment, says Gov. Lynch. Coos County’s remoteness makes it more expensive to move goods between it and major centers of commerce.
“Any time you can cut taxes to help businesses grow and create jobs, it’s the perfect place to start,” says Steve Griffin, senior vice president of Isaacson Steel in Berlin, NH, which is within Coos County. “I am sure there are a number of companies that can benefit from this, and the North Country will benefit through the creation of jobs.”
In Coos County, average wages are significantly lower, the unemployment rate is much higher, and economic growth is expected to lag behind the rest of the state.
The credit is specifically structured to protect existing jobs; for example, a company in Nashua, NH cannot move jobs to Berlin and receive the credit. Also, an existing Coos County company can’t lay off its workforce, create a similar company, and shift its workers to be eligible for the credit.
“I believe this idea from the governor of a tax credit for new jobs being brought to Coos County is a great way to help the North Country economy,” says Barry Normandeau, owner of a Coos County business, Normandeau Trucking in Groveton, NH.