Innovative database developed to match local teens with internship opportunities

LACONIA — In 2011, to match the demand of businesses for skilled employees with the aspirations of students for fruitful careers, Granite United Way and its partners launched "200 by 2020," a program aimed at enrolling 200 firms in the Lakes Region in offering learning opportunities for high school students by the year 2020.

The program has taken a giant step forward with the development of an internship data base open to any business and any school in the region, which streamlines the process of linking employers and students. "It is our biggest project to date" said Carmen Lorentz, executive director of the Belknap Economic Development Council.

At students, working with their guidance counselors can set up an account. Lorentz said that almost 30 firms, representing ever sector of the local economy, are offering some 50 opportunities for internships and job shadows and anticipates that another 25 businesses will soon make similar offerings. Each entry provides an explanation of the position and how to apply for it.

The project was funded with a $15,000 grant from the Samuel P. Pardoe Foundation and the sale of $120,000 worth of tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority to Eptam Plastics, NGM Insurance, Bank of New Hampshire and Cross Insurance. A data base was developed with Mainstay Technologies designed software. Mainstay, located in Belmont, designed the software, donating significant time and talent to what Lorentz called "a pretty complex project."

Recently Lorentz presented the project to rave reviews at a conference held by the Northeastern Economic Developers Association, where the six New England states as well as New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware were represented. She said that she is weighing the prospects of licensing and marketing the unique program, which would generate a revenue stream to maintain and operate it in the future.

Lorentz encouraged all interested students and their parents to visit the website with its opportunities to explore the world of work .