A+ A A-

Alan Robichaud - Opening a window to Lakes Region manufacturing might

A glimpse of the global marketplace was on display this past week when Belknap EDC sponsored several tours of local manufacturers who process and ship their products around the world. Being a nearly life-long resident of the Lakes Region and never having set foot inside some of the host manufacturers, I am probably more the norm of a typical resident who wonders,"what do they do inside those walls?"
I must say that I was totally surprised and impressed with much of what I saw and heard from those conducting tours of our manufacturing plants. First, to note that each of those companies I visited produce top quality components that are used all around the world, including some out of this world such as in the space lab and shuttles, was impressive. These precision products require high scrutiny in the manufacturing process and to my second point, the continuous quality improvement techniques used to harness their corners of the world's competitive market was astounding. In all cases, our hosts spoke with great pride in their work, in their people, and in their products. They were sensitive to quality on all levels including protecting the environment, not only here in our own back yard but wherever their companies exist throughout the world.
Belknap EDC along with Granite United Way, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Huot Technical Center, Lakes Region Community College, Meredith Career Partnership, and others have been working collectively with local businesses to expand the career exploration and internship possibilities for local students through an initiative we call 200 X 2020. We hope to engage a minimum of 200 businesses in the fully array of cradle to career opportunities for students by 2020 so that we can assure a vibrant economy through a highly skilled workforce in a revived manufacturing climate right here in the Lakes Region.
While several local students participated in the plant tours, seeking an advantage in planning their higher education and career opportunities, not nearly enough benefitted from this wonderful experience to see the future in the making. Manufacturing is making a rebound in the U.S. and right here at home. Our companies universally stated their need for skilled employees. Students hearing their presentations know very clearly the academic and behavioral experiences needed to compete in the advanced manufacturing arena. Over and over we heard minimal requirements including middle math, blueprint literacy, computer skills, communications, critical thinking, problem solving and positive attitudes being essential entry level basics and everything on up. Our youth don't have to leave the area to find highly skilled, excellent paying jobs with benefits and clean working conditions but they do have to be ready to compete in an ever-increasingly competitive environment.
If you missed the manufacturing open houses this year, be the first to attend next time they are offered. Parents and teachers: be sure to give your students access to this inspiring experience. It will be one of the best opportunities you have to expose them to their future workforce opportunities in the exciting field of advanced manufacturing. It will help them select prerequisite academic courses while still in high school and it will certainly point them to and prepare them for appropriate higher education programs.
I want to sincerely thank Belknap EDC and all the manufacturers who opened their facilities to this year's Open House Tour and urge you to consider doing more of this in the future. It was eye-opening and impressive. It is incumbent on us all to support this industry for there to be hope for the future growth and development of our local economy. Advanced manufacturing is vibrant and on the cutting edge of tomorrow's technology. Let's make sure that its future is ours as well!
(Alan Robichaud is community development director for Granite United Way.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 12:20

Hits: 361

Froma Harrop - Better life is measured by more than money

Many speak of Gen X and Gen Y as "lost generations" destined to "not live as well" as their parents. A new Urban Institute study finds that young people up to the age of 40 haven't accumulated as much wealth as their parents did at their age. They face a bleak economic future, breaking a pattern of generational advancement.
The numbers may be right, but is the worry warranted? Time always will tell, but let's say this: Lots of shaky assumptions go into predicting how well today's young will live, starting with defining what it means to live well. It may be that today's young people end up living better, way better, than their parents — and by several measures, not just money.
The Urban Institute report focuses on one yardstick: wealth. It states that because investing and savings generate more wealth over the years, losing a decade of accumulation is especially serious.
Several financial setbacks certainly hit young adults hard. Many bought their first homes right before real estate values collapsed. They may now owe more on their houses than the properties are worth: Their mortgages are "underwater." They may be weighed down with student debt and frustrated by stagnant wages, a phenomenon predating the Great Recession.
Financially stressed young workers have been likened to their grandparents or great-grandparents, whose expectations fell and optimism dimmed in the Great Depression. That is not an entirely bad thing. The young people scarred by the economic calamity of the 1930s developed habits of thrift and caution that served them quite well in the post-World War II recovery — unlike much of the baby boom generation.
Middle-aged people traditionally save money and reduce debt for their later years. Many boomers, raised in the age of plenty, did not.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research reported in 2009 that 30 percent of homeowners aged 45 to 54 were underwater on their mortgages. They had feasted off rising home prices. Today's struggling young people will probably be more careful.
Also, many will have more time to make up for their youthful financial mistakes. Medical progress points to longer and healthier lives, at least for those who take care of themselves. This, like cleaner air, is one of the many marks of living well that don't easily translate into dollars.
Today, a low-income 55-year-old suffering serious heart disease has a better medical prognosis than did a multimillionaire of the same age and condition in 1960. Who would you say has/had the better life?
Chances are, younger Americans will also be working longer, enjoying perhaps 10 more years of wealth accumulation. (Full-time mothers concerned about losing economic ground in their child-rearing years should think about that.)
But is working longer a step backward? Not necessarily. That would depend on what kind of work you do and the career path you follow.
The common career pattern is illogical. Workers typically advance to the highest level of responsibility as they approach retirementage. Why can't the line be shaped like a pyramid, rather than the vapor trail of a jet taking off? One could rise in the early years, eventually hit the "top," then decelerate in terms of stress, hours and pay.
Many of today's Americans aged 65 and far older would jump at the chance to keep working, just not as hard. Some are even starting small businesses rather than face 25 years of enforced boredom and inadequate income.
Given the choice between more years and more money, most elderly people would choose the years. And years are what the young people have. Pessimism is clearly wasted on the young.
(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 09:47

Hits: 319

Roy Sanborn - Waterfront Sales Report

There were three sales in February on Lake Winnipesaukee at an average of $1.26 million. That's down from last February when we had seven sales that were all below the million dollar mark resulting in an average price of just $606,429. While the total number of sales are down this year so far, at least a few high dollar properties are moving.
The largest sale in February is a brand spanking new Scott Fuller Development home at 34 Boathouse Road in Moultonborough. This 5,500-square-foot, high quality contemporary has all the features expected in a grand lake home on Winnipesaukee including a great room with soaring cathedral ceilings, massive stone fireplace, and a wall of windows facing the lake that opens out to a massive lakefront deck. There's a first floor master suite with a fireplace and private deck and a gourmet kitchen that is open to the great room and dining areas. Upstairs are three quest suites, a media, bonus room, and loft area from which you can view the stunning great room below. The walk out lower level has a large family room with a fireplace, billiard room, and home theater (of course!) This home sits on a private .89 acre lot with 180-feet of frontage, a sugar sand beach, and sunset views. The exterior is finished in cedar shingles and clapboards with a natural stain for that Adriondack feel. Sounds pretty spectacular to me! This home was listed at $2.5 million and sold for $2.35 million.
At the other end of the spectrum, the least expensive sale on the lake was at 40 Governor Wentworth Highway in Tuftonboro. This property consists of a 1960's vintage, year round 2/3 bedroom home and a Victorian era three bedroom guest cottage on a half acre lot with 91-feet of frontage on Winter Harbor. The main house has basic amenities including an eat in kitchen living room, den, one full bath, two beds down and a large room on the second floor for sleeping a herd of kids and will probably make way for a new waterfront home. The guest cottage looks more interesting with its wrap-around porch and would be a neat structure to keep as it is also located steps to the lake. This property was originally listed at $795,000, was reduced to $635,000, and sold for $585,000 after 469 days on the market. The current assessment is listed at $782,700 so whether the new owner is going to build new or use as is, I bet he is delighted with his purchase.
There were no sales in the month of February on Winnisquam or Squam! Ouch!
If you are a property owner on a lake I would highly encourage you to visit the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association's website at www.winnipesaukee.org . This non-profit organization is dedicated to protecting and preserving the water quality in the Lake Winnipesaukee watershed area. Its ongoing activities include coordination and assistance to the UNH Lakes Lay Monitoring Program on Lake Winnipesaukee, educational outreach and awareness programs, assistance to communities in milfoil prevention activities, and development of the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Management Plan. There is a wealth of information here about how to do your part in keeping our lake pristine and they also post their newsletters on line that you will find extremely informative. Lake monitoring data can be found on www.winnipesaukeegateway.org along with recreation information, watershed maps, and info about the watershed management plans. These are two great sites that everyone who loves Winnipesaukee should visit!
As of this writing there were 176 homes for sale on Lake Winnipesaukee with 73 of those below the million dollar mark! You can get onto lake with an island property generally starting in the $200-400,000 range. There is a camp available right now on Bear Island for $169,900. I'm not saying it's great, but it is a buy at $100,000 below assessed value! There are 16 homes available on Winnisquam starting just under $300,000 and many, many homes on smaller lakes in the are starting perhaps for a little less. So, if you want your piece of waterfront heaven in the Lake Region this would be a great time of year to start your search.
Please feel free to visit www.lakesregionhome.com to learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others. Data was compiled as of 3/12/13 using the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System. Roy Sanborn is a REALTOR® at Roche Realty Group and can be reached at 603-677-8420

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 22:37

Hits: 503

Kate Flaherty - How I remember Mr. Sargent

It was with a heavy heart I received the news that Mr. Sargent, my former English teacher from Gilford High School, had died. Memory and distance can trick the brain into freezing time altogether, and this can be particularly true when it comes to teachers and friends we leave behind after high school. I hadn't seen Mr. Sargent since my graduation decades ago, so in my head he's still the same as he was then, flattop haircut and short-sleeved dress shirts, a different striped tie for every day of the week.
Mr. Sargent didn't look like an English teacher, he looked like a math teacher or an engineer or like an actual military sergeant — the kind who would flip a quarter onto to your bunk and give you two weeks of latrine duty just because it didn't bounce high enough off the blanket.
If you didn't know him — and I definitely didn't that first day of 11th grade English — you'd expect him to be exacting and severe, the kind of guy who'd cut you no slack, no matter what.
It didn't help that while the other English teachers at Gilford got to serve up "The Great Gatsby" or "Catcher in the Rye" or "Lord of the Flies" — books with enough intrigue or violence or adolescent angst to make any lesson slightly more manageable — Mr. Sargent had the trying task of teaching early American Lit. The curriculum consisted of Pilgrim journals, Puritan sermons (mainly of the fire and brimstone variety), Emerson essays, and, worst of all, Henry Thoreau's "Walden", a book that seemed just as torturous to a 16-year-old as calculus or SATs or a gym class first thing in the morning.
And we didn't even have a proper classroom — we were shoehorned into a tiny, windowless space in a corner of the library that probably had been storage at some point or an office where the librarian hid to catch up on reading the Life or Outdoor magazines that never seemed to remain on the racks. There were no desks, so we all just sat on the floor in a semi-circle around Mr. Sargent, who sat in one of the only available chairs, crossed his legs, balanced whichever thankless text we currently had to read, and began to teach.
And we all know what happened next, right? Even Mr. Sargent would have to agree that this is one of the oldest stories in the book, whether it was part of his early American Lit curriculum or not. I know I wasn't the only one who ended up scrawling Emerson quotes on my notebook — the most popular was "Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist" — or the only one who grudgingly admitted Thoreau had some pretty good points. (I was probably the only one who tacked a poem on my bedroom wall by the Puritan Reverend Michael Wigglesworth, but that's a story for another time.) Emerson and Thoreau were rebel punks and Wigglesworth was possibly the original Goth—as for the deceptively meek Emily Dickinson? She was easily the trickiest of the bunch.
I'm not sure how Mr. Sargent led us to a place where we could find value in what we read, where we could somehow connect words that were centuries old to our own world of Joe Strummer and John Hughes and the all-too enticing anti-Thoreau sentiment of "Greed is Good" from Wall Street. I think his gift had something to do with his sense of humor — this wry little smile he'd get once we wore ourselves out with complaints and finally happened upon the truth that he knew was there all along — but more to do with a deep and genuine kindness. His smile didn't mean he was laughing at us—though we sure deserved that more often than not—it was just benevolent amusement that it took us so darn long to figure everything out.
And I wonder now if we were shoehorned into that tiny room in Gilford High School by design rather than lack of space. It wasn't much smaller than Thoreau's cabin had been, and it certainly was spare. There was just us on the floor with our notebooks and pencils, and Mr. Sargent sitting in his chair, legs crossed, book on his lap.
I suppose you could say that in addition to having this frozen-in-time image of Mr. Sargent from my 11th grade English class so long ago, memory and distance also have allowed me to idealize his impact on me as a writer and teacher and an ever-evolving nonconformist, but I really don't think so. With that vintage flattop and a different striped tie for every day of the week, he was probably the first real nonconformist I ever knew; Emerson and Thoreau would be proud. I'm proud too, that I could call him my teacher.
(Kate Flaherty is a teacher and writer from Gilford.)

Last Updated on Friday, 15 March 2013 20:26

Hits: 327

Jim Hightower - Dow doesn't do much for Doug

"It's a sign," exclaims a February Associated Press story — a sign that our economy is "healing." "It signals that things are getting back to normal," added a delighted market analyst. And a March 4 New York Times report heralded it as "a golden age."
The "it" they're hailing is the Dow, that mystical force believed by faithful Dowists to be "The Way" — the provider of good fortune, often bestowing its magical beneficence by magical means. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is the holy measure of corporate stock prices, and it is now smiling warmly on its acolytes.
Last week, the Dow Jones Average reached a new high, having regained every dime of the $11 trillion that Wall Street investors had lost in the 2007 crash. "Hallelujah," shout the devout. "All praise the Dow!"
Unless, of course, your wealth is dependent not on stock prices, but on wages. In that case, you're among the majority of Americans who're more concerned about the Doug Jones Average. Forget the buzz about "a golden age" — Doug, Darcy, Diego, Deewanna and all the other Joneses can't even afford to enter the Golden Arches, for they're still mired in the Great Job Depression that Wall Street's crash caused.
Washington rushed to the rescue of the financial elites, but the Joneses are still getting double-stiffed by Washington policymakers and by the very elites Washington continues to coddle. The GOP House refuses to talk about a minimal tax hike on the superrich, but members had no qualms about jacking up the payroll taxes on millions of workaday people.
Meanwhile, even as corporate profits have rocketed up by 20 percent a year since the end of 2008, the chieftains are still refusing to increase hiring and are holding down wages. As a result, the share of America's total income that goes to workers has now tumbled to the lowest level in nearly half a century.
United Technologies (one of the 30 corporations whose financial performances are measured to calculate the Dow Jones Averages) is a force in that knockdown. This industrial giant, fed a regular diet of fat government contracts, has enjoyed annual revenue increases of some $2 billion a year since 2005, yet rather than increasing its workforce, CEO Louis Chenevert is shedding workers.
Last month, only four days after announcing that United Tech's stock price had leaped to a record high, the corporation revealed that it will fire 3,000 employees this year, on top of the 4,000 dumped in 2012.
That is the harsh math behind such recent smiley-face headlines as this one: "Household wealth back at pre-recession levels." Oh, joy — we're all rich again!
Or not. The article attributes the gain in household wealth to "surging stock prices." But before you start ripping up your floorboards in hopes of finding your share of this bounty, read deeper into the article to learn that the Dow doesn't do much at all for the Doug. In fact, the wealthiest 10 percent of households own 80 percent of all corporate stocks.
Harsher yet is the way the corporate powers are treating those financially stretched Americans who're looking not for a bundle of wealth, but just a decent job. Today's massive backlog of unemployed and underemployed workers allows corporations to bring in hoards of top-quality applicants and literally toy with them. It's now common for a job-seeker to return five, seven, nine or more times to the same company hiring hall for senseless rounds of interviews — only to have the company whimsically decide not to fill the opening at all.
From Google to Starbucks, major corporations have roughly doubled the duration of their interview process in the last two years. The New York Times noted that one fellow seeking a video-editing job was run through a gauntlet of nine interviews and made to undergo a ridiculous battery of psychological and personality exams, along with a math quiz and a spelling test — after which the company simply closed the opening.
Insulting, yes, but expensive, too. The out-of-work interviewee has to pay for producing work samples and cover the cost of everything from dry cleaning to parking fees. The job-dangling corporation, on the other hand, can simply force existing employees to shoulder a heavier load, while it trifles with applicants looking for what is laughingly referred to in CorporateSpeak as "the purple squirrel" — an applicant too qualified to exist.
Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over ... and kicked. The way workaday Americans are being kicked around today is revolting — both in the sense of being abhorrent and inevitably inducing a revolt.
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00

Hits: 407

 
The Laconia Daily Sun - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy
Powered by BENN a division of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Login or Register

LOG IN