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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All Things Considered
5:43 pm
Mon December 17, 2012

School Safety Essential But Never Simple

file photo of Manchester Central High School.
Credit Geoff Forester / NHPR

In the wake of the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it’s only natural for New Hampshire residents to ask if our schools are safe.

State and local officials say they have made the right moves over the years to keep students and staff safe – but they say school safety is not a simple task.

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Education
6:00 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

Online Petition Pushes For Transgender Policy In Nashua

An online petition asks the Nashua school district to establish anti-discrimination policies for transgender students.

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Word of Mouth
1:05 pm
Wed December 5, 2012

The Art and Science of Chocolate

Credit Virginia Prescott

Richard Tango-Lowy is a physicist turned chocolatier who melds a zen-like appreciation for the process with exacting standards for experimentation. Virginia Prescott visited Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester, New Hampshire to learn the art of making (and tasting) chocolate.


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NH News
5:41 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Record Hunting Season Means Good Business For Taxidermists

Rick Bewersdorf and Amy Morrill in their Wilton taxidermy shop.
Credit Sheryl Rich-Kern

For taxidermists like Rick Bewersdorf, business is booming.

"We're hoping for anywhere from 20 to 40 deer heads this year," said Bewersdorf, who has a workshop in a barn in Nashua. "We've already got seven full mount bear in with some rugs."

Rifle season for whitetail deer began only a couple of weeks ago. But already, wildlife officials say the state has topped its record for registered deer kills  compared to the previous nine years.

That's good news for taxidermists.

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Nashua Holiday Stroll
7:30 am
Fri November 23, 2012

Nashua Holiday Stroll Drums-Up Interest In Buying Local

Shopkeeper Richard Young says the annual Holiday Stroll helps bring new customers into the shop
Credit Sheryl Rich-Kern / NHPR

After the leftovers from a hefty Thanksgiving dinner are put away, it’s become a tradition for many consumers to head to the malls. But one shop-local initiative wants to lure customers away from the huge Black Friday sales — and stir up some excitement about downtown retail.

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Black Friday Competition
7:30 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Downtown Nashua Competes Against New Outlets For Holiday Shoppers

Cheryl Plunkett's Fresh boutique is one of many stores in downtown Nashua working to lure customers away from the new outlet stores
Credit Courtesy of Fresh

Nashua’s downtown retail district is located only a few miles away from mammoth chain stores to the south and the recently-opened outlet center to the north in Merrimack.  As the holiday shopping season kicks off this weekend, the mom-and-pop stores face stiff competition.

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All Things Considered
3:36 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

"The Last Policeman": Novel Weighs How New Hampshire Would Handle A Coming Apocalypse

The Last Policeman cover.

Recently the website BoingBoing recommended a novel called The Last Policeman. It's a murder mystery with a unique twist: it's set six months before a massive asteroid is set to collide with Earth and essentially cause the end of the world.

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Elections 2012
4:59 pm
Tue November 6, 2012

Record Turnout in Nashua

Amherst St. School in Nashua
Credit Sheryl Rich-Kern

Polling stations in Nashua opened at 6 AM this morning. And many stood patiently long before the sun appeared.

With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees, at least 150 voters wrapped around the Amherst Street School building before dawn.

Arthur Barrett is the town’s moderator.

He says by around 10 AM, almost 1500 had already cast their ballots.

He compares this turnout to that of 2008:

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NH News
5:43 pm
Wed October 31, 2012

Hydro Quebec Crews Arrive In Manchester

Hydro Quebec trucks line up in Manchester
Credit Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

A fleet of monstrous blue trucks arrived in Manchester late Wednesday afternoon.

PSNH president Gary Long and Northeast Utilities CEO Tom May were on hand to greet the Hydro Quebec crews.

To see reinforcements come around the corner with these blue trucks is very rewarding

75 two-man crews are slated to be in New Hampshire by Thursday morning, with some crews driving as long as 12 hours to help restore power.

Daniel Dumais is Director of Distribution at Hydro Quebec and was here for the ice storm in 2008.

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NH News
9:52 pm
Mon October 29, 2012

Businesses Stay Open Despite Storm

Sandy bears down on Elm street in Manchester

Businesses in Manchester faced the question of whether or not to close up shop as Sandy continued to pummel the Granite State.

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Education
10:33 am
Thu October 18, 2012

Creating "Cohorts" To Support New Teachers

Teacher Inge Thomas and her chemistry students.
Sheryl Rich-Kern

In New Hampshire, a statewide task force on effective teaching is publishing new guidelines to improve the quality of teaching.  One issue that’s getting a closer look is teacher mentoring programs.  In Nashua, one mentoring program works to groom better teachers and keep them in the classroom for years to come.

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Something Wild
12:00 am
Fri October 5, 2012

Thoreau Remembered

Henry David Thoreau's death 150 years ago has inspired memorial events in Concord - the Massachusetts Concord - but Thoreau passed through our Concord on a trip by boat and foot that led to his first book.

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Education
5:55 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Nashua Considers Ads At School Stadium

Sheryl Rich-Kern

As school districts continue to face budget cuts, administrators look for creative ways to fill in the gaps.  And that means that some schools are warming up to a concept that public educators used to reject: advertising.

In Nashua, the district wants to place electronic billboards at its stadium.  While many welcome the funding, some say commercialism doesn’t belong at public schools.

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Education
9:05 pm
Sat September 22, 2012

School Advocacy Group Holds Rally In Manchester

Parents, teachers, and students gather in Veterans Park
Credit Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

Concerned parents, teachers, and children held a rally in Manchester Saturday to protest the state of the Manchester school district. At least 200 people showed up to the rally at Veterans Memorial Park.

The event was organized by Citizens for Manchester Schools, a group formed in response to a budget shortfall that prompted the school district to lay off close to 150 teachers.

One of the group’s chief concerns is the burgeoning average class size in Manchester, with some classes reaching over 40 students.

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NH News
5:00 pm
Mon September 10, 2012

NH Delegation Rallies Against Cuts

Employees of BAE Systems rallied today against looming budget cuts to defense spending.
Todd Bookman NHPR

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation took part in a rally today protesting looming cuts to defense spending. The event took place in Nashua at BAE Systems, a defense contractor and one of New Hampshire’s largest employers.

Senator Kelly Ayotte told the crowd that across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, could weaken the country’s military.

"We cannot create a national security crisis on top of our fiscal crisis," says Ayotte.

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