More than 50 businesses have started in New Hampshire in the past six months thanks to a law allowing laid-off workers to fund them with their unemployment benefits. That’s according to the Small Business Development Center at UNH, which administers the so-called “Pathway To Work” program.
Senate Minority Leader Sylvia Larsen says the goal is to keep this program going. “There’s so much interest in it. Hopefully over time, we’ll be able to grow this program in a way that people who want to start their own business can,” she says.
Funding remains a challenge for the new program. The Small Business Development Center is jointly funded by the state and federal government.
But while lawmakers intended for Pathway to Work to be a long-term program, the state isn’t allowed to fund it with additional taxpayer dollars. In order for it to remain viable, the Small Business Development Center is looking for private money to pay for dedicated staff. Most recently, the Citizens Bank Foundation donated $20,000 to Pathway to Work. Governor Maggie Hassan wants other businesses to do the same, because she says this program is effective.
“We have Granite Staters who have been able to start their own businesses, businesses that will grow and create jobs and become a critical part of our economy,” Hassan says.
Participants are screened by the Small Business Development Center and New Hampshire Employment Security. They must have an approved business plan and also 18 weeks of unemployment benefits.