The health of the economy is a constant concern for people who live in the North Country. As paper mills and other companies have closed down, the region has turned to other industries to keep their economy moving. The tourism and hospitality industry is one, providing hundreds of jobs in hotels, inns, restaurants, gas stations and local stores. Summer, fall foliage, and ski and snowmobile season are all busy times for these North Country businesses, but as anyone from up north will tell you, tourism sharply drops in the late fall and in spring.
Getting through these lean times can be a challenge for both workers and businesses owners. Having something else to draw people to the region besides tourism, such as large-scale construction projects, can help, according to Scott Labnon, owner of the Town & Country Inn and Resort in Shelburne. In this video, Labnon talks about how large construction projects helped give a boost to his family business. During construction of the Burgess biomass plant and the federal prison in Berlin, the Town & Country saw an uptick in business in their restaurant and lounge. This kept the Inn busy during typically slow times and led to the hiring of more staff.
Northern Pass will be one of the largest construction projects in New Hampshire, requiring hundreds of workers. Like these other projects, Northern Pass will bring more business into local communities.
“I’m sure all the diners and restaurants along the Route 3 corridor heading up to Colebrook would see a big influx,” said Labnon.
Watch the video to hear more of what Labnon has to say about the economic boost large construction projects have brought to the North Country.
For more than 200 years, the Minot family has lived and worked on a 450-acre farm just north of the White Mountains National Forest. Its rolling hills and freshly mowed fields are dotted with cows. The large red barn, white farmhouse, and swift brook running through the heart of the farm are quintessential rural New England.
“The land is very important to us,” said farm owner William Minot. “It’s the reason we do this. It’s been here all my life, for several generations, and it’s our goal to keep it that way as long as we can.”
Minot and his family grow crops and hay, run a dairy farm and produce maple syrup. Much of this work is done beneath or within view of high-powered electrical transmissions lines that have stood on the farm for decades. Minot said these lines have had little impact on his family business. To him, they are just another part of the landscape.
“Never had a bit of a problem with them,” said Minot. “I could look through those lines and I wouldn’t even see them. They’ve always been there. I kind of like to have the electricity work, so I figure we need to move a little juice through here.”
We visited the Minot Farm earlier this year to get Minot’s take on the power lines. In this video, you’ll see the scenic Minot Farm and hear about the power line’s benefits, including electricity for families and businesses like his. The video also shows that transmission lines, like those proposed by Northern Pass, can exist in harmony with the surrounding landscape.
Spring means two things in Northern New Hampshire: mud and maple. Down a long, bumpy dirt road in Pittsburg, worn rough by frost heaves, there is a newly-constructed sugar shack. It’s mid-spring and steam pours out of a metal stack in the roof. Snowmobiles are parked near a garage door, ready to skim over the slush and mud into the vast expanse of the sugar bush. The next closest neighbor is in another country—literally—a farmer across the border in Canada.
Here is where you’ll find Jules Rancourt (pictured) and his crew boiling up thousands of gallons of maple syrup—Kate & Jen’s maple syrup to be exact. Kate and Jen are Rancourt’s daughters and this is, by every account, a family business. It’s also a new phase of life for Rancourt, a friendly-faced and hardworking framer who’s ready to put down the hammer and pick up the hydrometer (though his prior craft is evident in the quirky charm of his high-tech sugar shack).
The maple business is labor and land intensive. It takes patience and a lot of land to produce enough syrup for a sugar shack to be an income source. When Rancourt did the math, he knew he needed at least 6,000 hard maple trees to clear the threshold, but the land he was eyeing had been bought by Northern Pass. His hopes were not dashed. He saw opportunity.
Within a few short weeks of contacting Northern Pass, Rancourt signed a lease that gives him access to about 3,400 hard maple trees. That brings his total tap count to well over 8,000, far above the minimum he needed to make his business a success.
This is just one way Northern Pass is working with community members to spur economic development and encourage smart use of the land. We’re pleased to help Rancourt’s burgeoning business get off the ground and wish him sweet success!
To hear Jules tell the story, please check out this video.
In the next five years, New Hampshire and the rest of New England will have some big decisions to make about the region’s energy grid. How will we stabilize natural gas prices in a region so dependent on the fuel for home heating and electricity generation? Will there be support for building clean energy projects, like wind farms or transmission lines that carry Canadian hydropower? And who will pay for these expensive infrastructure projects, investors or customers?
In this video, Northern Pass spokeswoman Lauren Collins delves into these issues and some of the possible solutions, including how Northern Pass can help. As it’s currently proposed, Northern Pass will be built at no cost to consumers. In light of recent proposals that have New England utility customers funding new energy projects, Northern Pass is a unique opportunity for New Hampshire.
Last week the project held the first in a series of Northern Pass community open house events. These open houses are being held to provide residents and landowners with the opportunity to ask questions and share feedback in a personal, one-on-one environment with project representatives. These events are a voluntary effort by the project to provide meaningful opportunities for dialogue between residents and landowners and Northern Pass.
The format of each open house features a series of information booths on different topics, including the construction process, permitting requirements, environmental considerations, and project benefits. Each booth is staffed by project representatives with expertise in that specific subject area. For example, in the “My Community” booth project engineers (using interactive maps) are available to share with landowners structure location and height information specific to their property.
For a more detailed look inside a Northern Pass open house, we’ve posted a video walk-though of the event held last week in Millsfield. We’d like to thank the 60+ residents and landowners of Millsfield and Dixville who attended the event and we appreciate their feedback on how the project can better address their concerns. Direct feedback from local residents is invaluable to the project and greatly helps our efforts to further refine and improve our design and ensure that our proposal is the best possible project for New Hampshire.
Although these events are not a requirement of the permitting process, the project is committed to holding open house events along the entire length of its proposed route. Each open house will have information and data, like maps and tax benefits numbers, tailored to the communities that event is serving. While any interested member of the public is welcome to attend any open house, priority at each event will go to serving local residents and landowners first. Creating an open, comfortable environment at these events is critical and the project is focused on ensuring that attendees get the information they need in a welcoming setting. Attendees are encouraged to complete comment cards to ensure that all their thoughts, feedback and questions are captured and can be responded to by project representatives.
The current schedule of open houses is posted on our website and will be updated soon with additional dates and locations of future events.
The Northern Pass project will have a significant and positive impact on New Hampshire’s economy; most notably in the job market.
We’ve posted a video featuring Joe Casey, Business Manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 490 (Concord, NH), who describes the effects of the three year construction phase on the local workers that he partners with every day.
An updated economic study, in April, 2011, reported:
“…The … economic analysis estimates total job creation from the three-year construction project to peak at 1,330 to 1,680 local jobs in 2013 and 2014; with 900 to 1,135 local jobs being created or supported in 2015…”
The project is committed to hiring local labor first. More information on project jobs, and a means to add your name to a jobs mailing list, is available here.