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
5:09 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Details Emerge About Officer-Involved Shooting In Manchester

In a press release from the N.H. Attorney General's office, new details surrounding the fatal police shooting of a Canterbury woman have been released. It describes the car chase that led to the shooting but not the specific circumstances that caused the state trooper to fire his weapon.

Here is an excerpt from the release:

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Queen City Crime
2:00 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Anatomy Of A Murder

An August 1999 newspaper article recounts a development in the case.
Credit Lewiston Sun

Manchester has seen four homicides so far this year. That’s twice the city’s annual average of two, but police say these types of violent crimes are often anomalies, making it difficult to call this year’s spike a trend, and only one of this year’s cases remains unsolved.

As part of our Queen City Crime series, we examine the anatomy of how these homicides are solved by taking a closer look at a 1999 case that proved to be one of the most taxing investigations ever undertaken by the Manchester Police Department.

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NH News
10:18 am
Tue September 17, 2013

Manchester Common Core Vote Postponed

A key Manchester Board of School committee vote on how to implement federal Common Core standards has been delayed.  The state adopted the Common Core in 2010, which outlines what students should know before passing each grade.  

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NH News
7:00 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Concord Celebrates First Weekend On The Water Festival

Plastic ducks awaiting release for the Concord Rotary Club's Weekend on the Water fundraiser.
Credit Amanda Loder / NHPR

This past weekend Concord kicked-off its first ever Weekend on the Water festival at Kiwanis Riverfront Park, right along the Merrimack River. 

But the surprising thing about the festival is the way it came together.

In the past, the Concord Crew team has taken a weekend around this time of summer to hold a low-stakes regatta with other high school teams.  So how did it turn into a two-day event with a craft beer festival, live music, and touristy duck boat rides?  Concord Rotary Club President Chuck Willing says this year, the right people just found each other.

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Word of Mouth
3:34 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Communicating About Crime: Manchester Police On Social Media

Credit acmadotgov via Flickr Creative Commons

More and more, police are using social media as a way to connect directly to residents in their communities. But as NHPR’s Michael Brindley reports, the Manchester police department has yet to join the ranks of agencies on Facebook and other popular sites.

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NH News
7:03 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Businesses Donate Labor, Material To Make A Boston Bombing Victim Home Handicap Accessible

This week workers are renovating the Concord family home of Boston bombing victim Jeff Bauman Jr. They're making his father and step mother's home handicap accessible.


Before the Boston marathon bombings in April, Jeff Bauman Jr. visited the Concord home of his father, step mother and two half brothers frequently. But after Bauman lost both his legs during the marathon bombings, the space has become less accessible to maneuver around in a wheelchair.

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NH News
12:48 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Communities Take Fight For LGC Payout To Court

Ten communities have filed a lawsuit to stop the LGC from issuing refunds.  Under a hearing officer’s order, by September 1st, the Local Government Center has to return tens of millions of dollars to communities that for years paid inflated insurance premiums.  

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NH News
7:00 am
Sun August 4, 2013

FDA Releases Standards For 'Gluten Free' Label

The Food and Drug Administration has released the first set of national standards defining what makes food “gluten free.”  Gluten is a protein that naturally occurs in grains like rye, barley, and wheat.  Besides not using these grains, the new FDA regulations only allow foods with trace amounts of gluten to use the designation.

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The Exchange
9:00 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Queen City Crime

Credit examiner.com via Flickr Creative Commons

As part of NHPR's series on crime in Manchester, we sit down with police chief David Mara to discuss challenges facing the state's largest city and its police- from budget constraints to rising crimes associated with drug use. We'll also talk about police-community relations and how the force is learning to work with the city's immigrant communities.

GUESTS:

- David Mara, Police Chief of Manchester

CALL-OUTS:

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Queen City Crime
8:36 am
Wed July 17, 2013

Live Blog: Manchester Police Chief David Mara

Chief Mara in the Exchange studio.
Credit Sara Plourde / NHPR

9:56: Mara says, “We need more police officers and we need to more of the community involved.” Says we need people to look out for each other. “We need to work together.” The department needs to do a better job, as well.

9:54: Mara says stats are kept on how many crimes are solved. For example, on robberies, we do much better than the national average. “You constantly have to assess what you’re doing.”  

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NH News
6:11 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Officers Promote Water Safety

Following a series of six New Hampshire drowning incidents in the month of July, safety officers gathered in Concord on Tuesday to raise awareness about the dangers of swollen water bodies.  


Officers from Marine Patrol, Fish and Game, the State Police and Concord Fire Department joined in a shaded area along the Merrimack River in an effort to promote water safety.   


State Police says even a calm-looking river can have swiftly moving undercurrents.

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Queen City Crime
5:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Manchester Police Turn To Community To Help Curb Crime

Newly minted police badges for the newest members of the MPD arrayed on a window sill.
Credit Ryan Lessard / NHPR

All this summer, NHPR’s newsroom will take a closer look at crime in Manchester and how it affects the city and its residents. We’re calling the series Queen City Crime. Today, we begin with a look at Manchester’s Police Department and how it balances small-city challenges with big-city problems. A renewed focus on community policing is helping the department solve some of its staffing issues.


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NH News
4:48 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Bus Route Connects Concord To Airport

Beginning Monday airline passengers can now catch a bus from Concord to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport for $4 each way. 

The buses will run between Concord and the airport twelve times each day beginning at 3:55 a.m. and going through 12:45 a.m.  The five-day-a-week shuttle is part of a one-year trial that’s a joint effort between The Department of Transportation, the Manchester Airport and lawmakers.  It’s an effort to boost travel through the airport and to cut parking costs.

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