Regional Review: New England States Are Well Positioned for Economic Growth
New England touts a long history of tradition, independence, strong character, and academics. The slow but evident economic recovery of the New England States reflects the persistent determination of its citizens and their resilience in the face of adversity.
Mali R. Schantz-Feld (August 2012)

Ross Gittell, vice president and forecast manager for the New England Economic Partnership (NEEP), says that this region was not as negatively affected as other parts of the country by the most recent recession. He notes, "We have lower unemployment, especially in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, so when the national economy does start growing again, the region will be well positioned to grow along with it into a healthy economy."

The region's manufacturing employment, Gittell notes, "is good news after a long period of extended decline." He adds, "Vermont and New Hampshire are among the five states with the lowest unemployment in the country, in part due to the fact that they did not suffer the employment market drop or housing declines like other states, they have fairly diversified economies, and fairly high percentages of adults with college degrees."

Vermont's economic outlook by forecast manager Jeffrey B. Carr of the NEEP shows "proportionally better performance relative to the U.S. and New England economies," although the labor market recovery is slow, and economic prospects continue to be impacted by the lingering effects of Hurricane Irene that hit in August 2011. The outlook for 2012-2016 is for moderate recovery followed by moderate growth. If the forecast holds, the state is expected to re-capture the statewide payroll jobs lost during the recession by the third quarter of 2012.

A Diversified Economy & Low Tax Burden

New England's industry strengths are derived from professional/business services, software and high-tech advanced manufacturing, product and component parts, and suppliers to the auto, computer, and aerospace and defense industry, says Gittell. This year, the region's fastest-growing sectors on a percent change basis include high tech (2.1 percent), professional and business services (2.0 percent), and private education and healthcare services (1.7 percent). Employment "is driven by our highly educated population and higher education infrastructure, institutions that are world leaders in research and innovation."

Doug Ray, development program manager/legislative liaison for the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, notes that the Pine Tree State's targeted industries are biotechnology; aquaculture and marine technology; composite materials technology; environmental technology; advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture; manufacturing, including precision manufacturing; information technology; and financial services. He enthusiastically adds, "The big news here is that from January 2011 to March 2012 (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Maine's private sector grew by 4,100 jobs!"

New Hampshire credits its low tax burden as an economic development advantage. The Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan tax research group, the Tax Foundation, ranks the state in sixth place in its 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index. The state has no broad base personal income tax, no sales tax, no use tax, no inventory tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no Internet tax, no professional service tax, and a low corporate income tax.

Albany International chose to move its corporate headquarters from New York to Rochester, N.H., last year. In the same city, construction is under way on a 275,000-square-foot facility for Safran USA and Albany Engineered Composites (AEC) that is expected to employ approximately 400 workers to manufacture composite engine components. AEC is a subsidiary of Albany International, which already employs about 225 workers at its existing Rochester, N.H., facility.

Focus on Biosciences
In Connecticut, targeted industries include insurance and financial services, aerospace, biotechnology and biomedical research, medical devices, green and sustainable technology, digital media and entertainment, hospitality and tourism, and information technology. The Bioscience Connecticut initiative was designed to expand and improve Connecticut's research and development capacity.

The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine has been launched on the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center. The collaborative effort between Jackson Laboratory, the state of Connecticut, the University of Connecticut, and Yale University aims to accelerate the development of new medical treatments tailored to people's unique genetic makeup. "The State of Connecticut made a huge commitment to the Bioscience Connecticut effort at a time when most states are cutting their R&D funding," says Mike Hyde, vice president for external affairs for The Jackson Laboratory.

Biopharmaceutical company Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. will establish its global headquarters in New Haven by 2015, relocating its existing Connecticut work force of more than 350 employees to the facility and creating an expected 200 to 300 new jobs by 2017. Other bioscience facilities in Connecticut include Bristol-Myers Squibb in Wallingford, Boehringer Ingelheim's U.S.A. headquarters in Ridgefield, and Pfizer's global R&D headquarters in the New London area.

Massachusetts is also strengthening its biosciences sector, with Governor Deval Patrick's 10-year, $1 billion life sciences investment that spurs research, investment, innovation, and commercialization. The life sciences industry in Massachusetts has experienced more than 52 percent job growth in the biopharma sector since 2001. In June, the Governor and seven global biopharmaceutical companies (Abbott, Biogen Idec, EMD Serono, Janssen R&D, Merck, Pfizer, and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.) announced the formation of the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium to fund pre-clinical neuroscience at Massachusetts academic and research institutions.

Moving a Highway

Scott Gibbs, president at The Economic Development Foundation of Rhode Island, notes that while the state continues to struggle, there is more positive news, including CVS' recently completed 300,000-square-foot finance and administration building in Woonsocket. Fidelity Investments in Smithfield also plans to add additional employees.

In Providence, Colin Kane, chairman of the I-195 Redevelopment Commission, says, "The I-195 Redevelopment Commission is the `super-permitting' entity, as well as the ownership entity, and looks forward to bringing pad-ready sites to the global market in the very near term." He continues, "The 22 developable, downtown Providence acres created by the relocation of Interstate 195 present an incredible opportunity for three million square feet of new buildings and public spaces. The original city streets and utility infrastructure will be reconnected starting in fall 2012 with the investment of over $40 million by RIDOT and the regional utility providers." The area is anchored by Brown University's Medical School and Johnson & Wales University campus.

Jody Sullivan, executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce, says that defense and hospitality remain healthy in her area. "In the most recent Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2005, our Naval Station Newport actually gained tenants/schools and now has over 50 commands here in Newport, the largest of which is the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, which employs approximately 3,000 people and houses the Naval War College. In total, the Naval Station Newport provides almost 8,000 jobs."

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