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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Education
5:00 am
Sun March 9, 2014

Hooksett Voters To Weigh In On Pinkerton Deal

On Tuesday, the town of Hooksett will vote whether to approve a contract with Pinkerton Academy in Derry. If voters approve the deal, it could spell the end for the town’s century-long relationship with Manchester schools.


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NH News
5:23 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Manchester Police Ensnare 30 Low-Level Heroin Dealers In Sweep

16 of the 30 dealers arrested so far.
MPD

Over the last two days, police in Manchester arrested 30 street-level heroin dealers. Three were on Wednesday and at least 27 on Thursday since 5 o’clock in the morning.


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All Things Considered
5:43 pm
Tue February 4, 2014

When Drone Aircraft Video Met Nashua's Branding Campaign

David Brooks says the cost of attaching a camera to a quadrocopter and creating a video-friendly drone aircraft is often under a thousand dollars.
Credit quadrocopter via Flickr/CC - http://ow.ly/thIHv

Nashua is in the midst of a downtown branding campaign, with the slogan “Dare To Begin” and an eye-catching video showing some of the district’s most prominent features from above, courtesy of a camera mounted on an unmanned aerial vehicles, or a drone.

The catch is, the system used to make the video does not appear to have had license from the Federal Aviation Administration to fly.

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NH News
5:30 am
Wed January 29, 2014

Salem Confronts Three Drug Overdoses

Police in Salem are investigating three drug overdoses in the city, less than a week after a similar series of overdoses in Portsmouth.

On Tuesday police in Salem found a man unconscious and not breathing. He was revived at a local hospital. They believe he is acquainted with a couple found in a similar state in a vehicle on Monday.

New Hampshire has seen a growing number of heroin deaths and overdoses in recent months.

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NH News
4:14 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Bill Before House Would Boost Funding For N.H.'s Charter Schools

House lawmakers are scheduled to take up a bill Wednesday to increase annual per pupil funding for New Hampshire’s nearly two dozen charter schools.

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NH News
2:58 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

2013: Manchester's Record Crime Year

Ryan Lessard NHPR

Last year, robberies, burglaries and heroin addiction appear to have skyrocketed in the Queen City.

Over the summer we looked at the issue of crime in Manchester and we provided a lot of historical data from the past five years. Now that the year is done, we review some of those numbers. The most surprising development is a 45% growth in robberies compared to 2012. Burglaries spiked to unprecedented highs during the summer, but robberies continued well into the colder months. The city also saw a high number of homicides. The highest in recent memory.

NH News
2:52 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Mayor Gatsas Sworn In, Promises To Tackle Crime

Former Mayor Ray Wieczorek swears in Mayor Ted Gatsas for his third term. On left is Gatsas' wife Cassandra.
Ryan Lessard NHPR

Ted Gatsas began his third term as Manchester’s Mayor Tuesday. And his inaugural address included promises to improve the city’s safety and public education.


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Education
4:37 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Hooksett School Board Votes To Sign Contract With Pinkerton, Manchester Calls Foul

Last week, the Hooksett School Board voted to sign a ten-year contract with Pinkerton Academy that would eventually send most of its high school students to the Derry school. This new agreement may reignite a legal conflict between Hooksett and Manchester.


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NH News
1:05 pm
Fri December 27, 2013

Some City Leaders Say They're Not Interested In New 2 A.M. Last Call

Credit Adam Fagen / Flickr Creative Commons

Starting with the New Year on Wednesday, cities and towns will have the option of extending last call at bars from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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Arts & Culture
7:00 am
Sun December 15, 2013

Currier Museum Celebrates Pop Artist Robert Indiana

1960 The American Dream
Robert Indiana, 1971 Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, N.H.

When you think of the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup prints or Roy Lichtenstein's comic book paintings might come to mind.  But recently, one of their peers has been getting more attention than usual.  

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NH News
3:41 pm
Wed December 11, 2013

For Many N.H. Schools, Sandy Hook Brought Security Needs To Forefront

Elm Street Middle School Principal Mike Frederickson swipes his ID badge against the proximity reader to get into the Nashua school.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

Many schools in New Hampshire enhanced their security in response to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. a year ago.

Those new measures come at a big cost to school districts.

And they’re forcing school officials to decide what type of security works for their buildings and their communities.

Even the head of Nashua’s school district needs clearance before he’s allowed into any of the city’s 17 schools.

“Hi, Mr. Conrad. Left door,” the secretary inside Elm Street Middle School says over the intercom.

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NH News
2:21 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Skull Reconstruction Gives New Face To Decades-Old Salem Cold Case

NH Attorney General's Office

It was in August of 1969 when a road crew discovered the partially decomposed body of an adult man in a small pit of water off of I-93 in Salem.

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NH News
10:57 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Manchester Police Weigh Charges After 5-Year-Old Accidentally Shoots Self

Manchester police are still determining whether charges will be filed after a 5-year-old boy accidentally shot himself early Saturday morning.

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Giving Matters
12:00 am
Sat November 9, 2013

Harbor Homes Supports Homeless Vets

Credit Courtesy of Harbor Homes

When Matt Milbourn, a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, found himself unexpectedly made homeless,  Harbor Homes was there for him.

In addition to operating a homeless shelter, Harbor Homes also manages a reintegration program, offering services, healthcare, and education to homeless veterans and their families. Matt earned his CphT (Certified Pharmacy Technician) through the program, and now teaches computer education and life skills classes at Harbor Homes.

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