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
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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NH News
10:10 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Nashua VFW Post's Search For A Home Highlights Stereotypes, Flagging Membership

A member of VFW Post #483 is silhouetted as he salutes the flag during closing ceremony on April 7, 2013, in front of a slideshow depicting the 92-year history of the post.
Credit Carol Robidoux for NHPR

It's been more than a year since the flag was lowered for the last time outside VFW Post 483 on Quincy Street in Nashua. But upkeep on the nearly century-old building was breaking the organization's bank, especially after sinking $100,000 into a new sprinkler system in 2012 to comply with the city's building code.

So last April, rather than dig themselves into a bigger financial hole, the VFW sold the building and handed over the keys to the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Homeless Shelter, which was operating across town out of a much smaller building.

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Foodstuffs
5:25 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Salem Program Teaches A New Group Of 'Junior Chefs'

The school year is drawing to a close, but next week a group of teens in Salem are heading back to the classroom - and the kitchen.

They're taking part in the Junior Chef program, a partnership between the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Salem and the Tuscan Kitchen restaurant.

Eddie Payne is an executive chef with the Tuscan Kitchen. He describes the program to NHPR's Brady Carlson.

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NH News
9:45 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Manchester Police Chief Finalist For Job In Mass.

Credit examiner.com via Flickr Creative Commons

Manchester Police Chief David Mara is one of four finalists to head up the police department in Somerville, Mass.

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Newscast
7:58 am
Mon June 16, 2014

Salem Sees Third Water Main Break In A Month

The town of Salem, New Hampshire, is dealing with its third water main break affecting Route 28 in a month.

The problem is slowing down Morning morning traffic, and is expected to affect the evening commute, too. Some traffic has been detoured.

The break was reported at about 2:30 a.m. on Route 28, in front of 265 South Broadway.

Last month, there were two water main breaks at the intersection of Routes 28 and 97, in an area of town called "The Depot."

NH News
7:06 pm
Sun June 1, 2014

Study: Greeley Park Best Place For Nashua's Controversial Playground

Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

A third-party study has determined the east side of Nashua's Greeley Park  would be the best place for a playground that has sparked two years of debate.

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NH News
12:40 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

Holocaust Memorial Opens in Nashua

Holocaust Memorial
Sheryl Rich-Kern, NHPR

New Hampshire’s first public memorial to the victims of the Holocaust officially opens in downtown Nashua this Sunday.

Unlike many memorials and museums, its funding didn’t come from a committee or a foundation.

Instead, the $150,000 was raised by a single man, former Nashua alderman Fred Teeboom, who was a Jewish child in hiding after the Nazis occupied Holland.

Nearly 70 years after he lived as a hidden child during World War II, Fred Teeboom is on a mission.

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NH News
11:27 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Legacy Delayed: Nashua Locked In Two-Year Debate Over New Playground

Legacy Playground organizers Eric Brand, left, and David Robbins, discuss their proposal near Greeley Park's current playground.
NHPR / Michael Brindley

Officials in Nashua expect the results of a study this week that aims to bring closure to a debate that’s divided city residents over the past two years.

And all of it is over a playground.

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Newscast
10:51 am
Mon May 26, 2014

Lane Closures On I-293 In Manchester As Part Of Widening Project

The New Hampshire Department of Transportation says temporary night closures are planned on Interstate 293 in Manchester, both northbound and southbound, near Exit 4 for drainage installation across the highway.  The lane closures are scheduled to take place from Tuesday, May 27, through Saturday, June 7, from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. each night, excluding the weekend. The interstate will have one open lane at all times in each direction. The improvements are necessary to accommodate construction of a third lane on I-293 southbound.

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NH News
10:56 am
Tue May 20, 2014

N.H. Conference Tackles The Question: How Can The Northeast Adapt To Climate Change?

White River Junction, Vermont, was one of many communities in New England that felt the force of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
Credit Ann and Dan / Flickr Creative Commons

The Environmental Protection Agency and Antioch University New England are hosting a climate change adaptation conference in Manchester this week.  

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NH News
6:00 am
Mon May 12, 2014

Nashua Aldermen To Consider Local Preference For City Contracts

Credit Tracy Lee Carroll / Flickr Creative Commons

Nashua business owners could win more contracts from the city thanks to a local preference ordinance the Board of Alderman will consider this week.  

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Education
3:46 pm
Fri May 9, 2014

How SNHU Is Edging Out Its Competition Online

  The week started with the news of Southern New Hampshire University’s new $10,000 bachelor’s degree program. Recent undergraduate enrollment numbers show the small, Manchester school is now equal in size to UNH in Durham, with a vast majority of its students online. 

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Education
5:30 am
Fri May 9, 2014

UNH Manchester Rebranding To Boost Enrollment

A giant banner with the new UNH logo now hangs in the front stairway of 400 Commercial st, UNH Manchester's university center.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

At a recent cookout behind the red-brick mill building that houses UNH Manchester, senior Derek Burkhardt describes what’s been an eight-year run to get his bachelor’s.

“I actually attended UNH Manchester right out of high school,” says Burkhardt. “But I took some time off in between school to save up some money to be able to afford school, but also to join AmeriCorps. So once I was done with that I came back to continue my education.”

Like many students here Burkhardt says he chose UNH Manchester because that’s where he lives.

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NH News
3:42 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Former Manchester Superintendent Dies Following Cancer Diagnosis

Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

The former superintendent of the Manchester School District has died following a cancer diagnosis made just weeks after stepping down from the post last year.

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