The Merrimack Valley Region

The Merrimack Valley follows the Merrimack River, straddling part of southern New Hampshire and a swath of northeast Massachusetts, including the cities of Lowell, Haverhill, and Lawrence.  Residents on both sides of the border refer to their areas as “the Merrimack Valley,” but technically the Massachusetts side is considered the “Lower Merrimack Valley,” while the New Hampshire portion is the “Upper Merrimack Valley” (not to be confused with the “Upper Valley” in the Dartmouth-Sunapee region).

From the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, the Lower Merrimack Valley was a manufacturing powerhouse.  In the early 19th century, businessmen founded the city of Lowell as a textile mill town.

As the various mill industries picked up steam, they spread north into New Hampshire.  While Manchester was the Upper Merrimack Valley’s most notable mill town, the industry also gained footholds in Concord and Nashua.  As industrialization advanced over the decades, factories specializing in mechanical parts and other manufactured goods were established on both sides of the Valley.

But over time, some significant  economic differences have developed between the Upper Merrimack Valley and the Lower Merrimack Valley.  Both sides of the border have, of course, suffered job losses and other side-effects of a bad economy.  But in the long-term, as American manufacturing has declined over the past half-century, the New Hampshire side has seen more success in diversifying its economy. As the capital city, Concord, of course, supports a large government workforce.  According to the US Census Bureau, more than one out of five residents are government employees.  (Of course, these numbers are subject to change, especially given the state’s most recent budget.)  Only 8.7 percent of people in Concord do factory work.  These days Nashua also skews heavily toward white collar work, with 66.7 percent of residents holding down management, sales, and other office jobs.  Only 12.3 percent of people work in factories.  And in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city, 60.2 percent of residents work in professional fields, while 13.6 percent of people do production work.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Department of Workforce Development found that nearly one in five Lower Merrimack Valley jobs were in the manufacturing sector.  As the national decline of manufacturing has accelerated during the recession, the Lower Merrimack Valley experienced greater–and faster–job loss than the rest of the state.  Wages in the area are also significantly lower than the Massachusetts average, with the low-paying retail and hospitality sectors dominating the economy.

Despite these differences between the Upper and Lower Merrimack Valley, there is still a lot of interaction between the two areas.  Lowell, Massachusetts is considered part of the Greater Boston Area–as is Nashua, New Hampshire.  Although mass transit between the Upper and Lower Merrimack Valley is decidedly lacking, easy Interstate access for much of the area has made it possible for many people to cross state lines as they commute to and from work.

Summary provided by StateImpact NH

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NH News
3:47 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

UNH Manchester Waits On City To Approve Building Deal

88 Commercial St. (Aka the Pandora Building).
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  UNH Manchester is planning on selling its main building in the millyard to the company run by the inventor of the Segway. The university is looking to expand into a larger space—the millyard’s Pandora building.

For more than twenty years, UNH Manchester has been located at 400 Commercial street, next door to Dean Kamen’s company DEKA’s headquarters. Now, the school wants to consolidate itself in a nearby larger mill building where it already leases the first two floors from Kamen. The swap would mean Kamen can expand his corporate headquarters.

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NH News
2:49 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Concord's Market Days Celebrates 40 Years

A vendor makes ribbon fries during Market Days in Concord on Thursday.
NHPR / Michael Brindley

The 40th annual Market Days is underway in Concord.

The event runs through Saturday and tents will line Main Street with sidewalk sales, food vendors, live music, and other activities.

Stephanie Green of Hopkinton comes every year, and says the three-day event creates a real sense of community.

“And it’s just nice to see people using the downtown. I’m always commenting about how the nice thing about Concord is that is really does have a thriving downtown, which so many communities no longer have.”

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Word of Mouth
2:16 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Yoyos: Coming Back Around

Skill toys, from juggling accessories to Frisbees
Molly Donahue

Back in 2013, downtown Concord, NH welcomed a new, unusual, addition. Yoyo Heaven is owned and operated by the father and son team Andy and Dan McBride, and it’s exactly what you could expect from the name. They sell assorted ‘skill toys,’ anything that engages people physically and can help build coordination, but the focus is on yoyos. They sell a wide range of yoyos and prices range from $5 to more than $200, and are more than willing to explain the different attributes of all of them.

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Word of Mouth
2:13 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

7.17.14: Nipsters, Yoyos On The Rise, And Raising Readers In A Digital World

Credit gcaserotti via Flickr CC

With their shaven heads, combat boots and bomber jackets, neo-Nazis used to be pretty easy to pick out of a crowd. Today, not so much. We explore why Europe’s young hyper-nationalists are opting for a more hipster look. Plus, common sense tells us that reading to children is good for them, but it’s more powerful than you might imagine. We’ll look into the practice of interactive reading and share tricks for bringing up book worms in the age of screens and digital devices. And, not all princesses are polite and demure. We remember some princesses for their bad behavior.

Listen to the full show and Read more for individual segments.

7.17.14 Full Show

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Arts & Culture
7:27 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Worth Preserving? 'Ugly' Concord Building At Center Of Debate Over Mid-Century Design

The former Department of Employment Security Building, located on South Main Street in Concord
Credit Courtesy photo

Located at 32-34 South Main Street, the former office of New Hampshire Employment Security has been called “the ugliest building in Concord.”

It is empty and blighted. It also melds two distinctly different styles; a 1927 home made of brick juts from the back of a 1958, Mad Men-era office building framed with turquoise panels of porcelain-enameled steel. 

Those turquoise panels, in particular, look dated to many people. Mid-20th century architecture is not in vogue in New Hampshire, although it is in many cities outside of New England.

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NH News
9:33 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Manchester Police: 2014 Crime Stats Show Little Change

Chief David Mara facilitating the meeting in the M-PAL building.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  Manchester police say that while efforts to reduce property crimes in Manchester have shown some success, the total number of crimes since January is virtually identical to last year. The information was presented during a downtown community meeting hosted by the Manchester police department Tuesday night.

Officer Matt Barter, the department’s crime analyst, says some of the numbers between January and June are looking good. 

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NH News
3:39 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Manchester Chamber of Commerce Expands Lunch In The Park Series

Residents and business people bring their lunches to eat at park tables at Veterans Park.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

  The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is expanding its summer Lunch in the Park series this year. Veterans Park is at the center of an effort to clean up the image of downtown area parks.

The hope is that every Thursday to the end of the summer people will venture out of their offices and homes to eat lunch in the city’s Veterans Park. Last year, Lunch in the Park events happened three times. This time it’s up to eight. Mike Skelton, the chamber of commerce president, says the events were first conceived when business owners complained about how the parks were being used.

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Newscast
7:59 am
Wed July 9, 2014

Salem Eliminates 'Sunday Business' Fee

Businesses in the town of Salem, New Hampshire, have been asked for years to pay an annual $50 fee to open on Sundays or holidays. As of next year, that fee will be gone.

The Eagle Tribune reports selectmen voted 4-1 on Monday to eliminate the annual fee as of Jan. 1, 2015. They said some businesses were paying it, while others weren't.

Assistant Town Manager Leon Goodwin said only 228 of several thousand businesses have paid it this year.

NH News
2:36 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Chief's Son Among 14 New Manchester Police Officers Sworn In

Police Chief David Mara, right, looks on as 14 new members of the Manchester Police Department are sworn in Monday.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

The Manchester Police Department swore in 14 new officers Monday morning.

It’s the city’s largest crop of new officers in recent years.

Ten men and four women were sworn in Monday.

(You can read the bios of the new officers here).

Police Chief David Mara says the new additions bring the department to 226 police officers total, still far below the 265 he says a city the size of Manchester needs.

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All Things Considered
4:36 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Former Concord Monitor Editor To Administer Pulitzer Prize

Credit www.puitzer.org

One of the most prominent voices in New Hampshire journalism will now lead the committee awarding one of the most prestigious awards in journalism. 

The new administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, which also recognize  excellence in literature and the arts, is Mike Pride. He served as editor of the Concord Monitor for 25 years, and spent five years before that as managing editor. During that time, the paper won numerous national and regional awards, including a Pulitzer Prise for feature photography in 2008. Mike Pride joins me now to talk about his new job:

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Hidden New Hampshire
9:22 am
Sat June 28, 2014

The Concord Quarries: Legal Or Not, They're An Adventurous Swimmers' Paradise

I test out the highest of the cliffs.
Marysol Newton

Summer has finally arrived in the New Hampshire. And with it, college students like me, who look forward to heading outside with friends. Though Hampton Beach and Lake Winnipesaukee are appealing summer hangouts, there's is a more hidden place I like to go. It’s a little bit isolated, a little bit dangerous and maybe, a little bit illegal. I’m talking about the Concord Quarries.

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NH News
11:38 am
Fri June 27, 2014

Nashua Aldermen OK Site For Handicapped-Accessible Playground

Greeley Park in Nashua
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

Aldermen in Nashua voted 8-6 this week to allow for a handicapped-accessible playground to be built in the city’s Greeley Park.

The vote puts to rest an issue that has divided city residents for nearly two years.

Debate over where to build the playground has been contentious and personal at times, and project organizer Eric Brand says he’s glad that’s now in the past.

“We are very happy to be able to start moving forward towards getting a final design that we can that we can hopefully this construction going next year.”

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All Things Considered
5:21 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Foodstuffs: A Neighborhood Market Searches For A Neighborhood

A food market can be a cultural center for a neighborhood. The owner of an Asian market in Manchester is hoping to become just that, but first he must find a new space for his store. To learn more about the Saigon Asian Market we turned to Mark Hayward of the Union Leader who has written about the market’s struggle with the Manchester Zoning Board of Adjustment:

What can you tell us about this store and about its owner?

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NH News
1:32 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Medal Of Honor Recipient: 'I’m Going To Live My Life For Those That Aren’t Here'

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts answers questions during a press conference at the New Hampshire National Guard. Pitts will be awarded the Medal of Honor next month.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

A Nashua man who will be awarded the Medal of Honor next month says the recognition does not belong to him, but to his unit, and his fellow servicemen who died in battle.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts will receive the medal during a White House ceremony next month.

He is quick to deflect any credit, and says the award is a memorial to those who have laid down their lives in battle.

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NH News
2:11 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

With No Federal Funding, Nashua After School Program Forced To Close

A group of students work on their homework at the after school program at Pennichuck Middle School. The program is shutting down after the state rejected the district's application to renew its federal funding.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

The end of the school year in Nashua marks the end of the line for an after school program that organizers say was vital for the city’s middle school students.

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