Major Industries and Commercial Activity
Once a single-industry town dependent on the textile industry, Manchester has diversified its economy to include manufacturing (more than 200 manufacturing firms are located there), wholesale and retail trade, information processing, and the service industry. More than 85 percent of the work-force is involved in sales, finance, and service companies. Manchester is considered the major insurance and financial center north of Boston, housing the area's largest savings and commercial institutions. The city is also the northeastern states' principal distribution center.
The City of Manchester provides assistance to businesses interested in locating or expanding in the area through the Manchester Economic Development Office (MEDO).
Items and goods produced: knitting and textile machinery, leather goods, electrical and electronic components, automobile accessories, and plastic, lumber, metal and wood products
Incentive Programs—New and Existing Companies
The State of New Hampshire, which levies no state sales or income tax, is considered one of the most favorable climates for doing business in the nation. Because so much is provided at the state level, few incentives are offered at the city-town level. In fact, by state law, New Hampshire cities are prohibited from offering tax breaks to private industry. However, cities such as Manchester do aid businesses indirectly by helping to market and develop industrial sites. In addition, Manchester's banks are willing to supply financing to all deserving enterprises. The non-profit Manchester Development Corporation may make loans to promote the economic development of the city. The city has designated the Economic Development Office as administrator of a revolving loan fund to provide "gap" or secondary financing for businesses locating within Manchester.
The state's incentives include no general sales or use tax, no general personal income tax, no capital gains tax, no inventory tax, no property tax on machinery or equipment, one of the lowest unemployment insurance rates in the country, investment tax incentives, job tax credits, and research & development tax incentives. In 2004, the State of New Hampshire instituted the Community Reinvestment Opportunity Program (CROP), which offers tax credits that may be used against business profit taxes and business enterprise taxes. Qualifying CROP projects must create new jobs as well as expand the state economic base.
Job training programs
The Small Business Development Center, which is funded by the Small Business Association, the State of New Hampshire, and the University of New Hampshire, offers management counseling, training, and resource information to the state's small business community through six sub-centers. The New Hampshire Employment Program (NHEP) aids individuals in obtaining financial aid to prepare for and find employment. The NHEP On-The-Job Training Program offers employers incentives to hire and train eligible applicants.
The Granite Street widening project is a $19 million joint effort between the City of Manchester and the New Hampshire Department of Transportation. When complete in 2007, downtown Manchester will see improvements to traffic flow as well as access and safety improvements. In 2005 the city broke ground for the development of the Northwest Business Park. The development of 140 acres on Northwest Drive off of Hackett Hill Road will provide for increased business facilities, increased tax revenues, and new jobs. The estimated $20 million development is scheduled for completion in 2017. Construction is also underway on Manchester Place Apartments—a $40 million high-end residential apartment complex that will include 204 residential units, a 300-car parking facility, and 5,200 square feet of retail space. Recently completed projects include the $24.3 million Riverfront Stadium, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats AA baseball team; an upgraded water treatment facility; and $2.725 million worth of upgrades to the McQuade building, an historic downtown landmark.
Economic Development Information: Manchester Economic Development Office, One City Hall Plaza, Room 110, Manchester, NH 03101; telephone (603)624-6505. New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, 33 Commercial Street, Manchester, NH 03101-1796; telephone (603)624-2000
Manchester, located on the main line of the Guilford Rail Systems, maintains excellent freight service south to Boston and north to Montreal and connecting lines. A large fleet of commercial trucks is also available for shipping goods to all parts of the country. Air freight service is offered at Manchester Airport, the state's major airport. Air freight lines and U.S. Customs service are also available; the industrial area surrounding the airport has been designated a Foreign Trade Zone. Daily delivery service includes Federal Express, United Parcel Service, and DHL. Since the Merrimack River is not navigable, Manchester is not a port city; however, the Port of New Hampshire in Portsmouth is located 45 minutes east of Manchester.
Labor Force and Employment Outlook
Manchester's computer and other high-tech industries and its financial and professional services have contributed to the growth of Manchester's economy since the late 1980s. Manchester's labor force is described as industrious and the city boasts one of the best records in the nation in terms of hours lost through strikes. In 2005, Inc. Magazine ranked Manchester the 21st best city (out of 274 cities ranked) in which to do business.
The following is a summary of data regarding the Manchester metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.
Size of nonagricultural labor force: 99,300
Number of workers employed in . . .
construction and mining: 5,300
trade, transportation and utilities: 20,800
financial activities: 8,800
professional and business services: 12,000
educational and health services: 16,000
leisure and hospitality: 8,300
other services: 4,100
Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $17.38
Unemployment rate: 4.2% (February 2005)
Cost of Living
The cost of living is reasonable in New Hampshire. The lack of a sales tax stretches residents' purchasing dollars. Having one of the lowest crime rates in the country, as well as one of the lowest auto theft rates, keeps insurance rates affordable.
The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors in the Manchester area.
2004 ACCRA Average House Price: Not reported
2004 ACCRA Cost of Living Index: Not reported
State income tax rate: None (business profits tax is 8.5%)
State sales tax rate: None on salaries and wages of residents; limited tax upon interest and dividends received by individuals, trusts, estates and partners in excess of $2,400. There is a $10.00 "Resident Tax" on all persons between 18 and 60 years of age with some exceptions. Concord has passed an ordinance eliminating this tax for residents of the city.
Local income tax rate: None
Local sales tax rate: None
Property tax rate: $27.92 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (2005)
Economic Information: Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 889 Elm Street, Manchester, NH 03101; telephone (603)666-6600
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