Twenty-First Century City

Manchester, New Hampshire

“Smart young people who could work in Boston are finding similar work here with a far lower cost of living,” shares Will Craig, Director of Economic Development for Manchester. “They are happy living here and working here.”

The city’s transformation has been carefully planned and includes everything from renovating old mill buildings into office space to creating a low cost, business friendly environment. “Once people committed themselves to transforming a mill yard city into a 21st century city, things took off,” Mr. Craig says. “We have low taxes and we have a small, agile government that is here to help businesses grow and develop. New Hampshire in general, and Manchester specifically, does a good job from the government level of working with people who want to start a business or grow one. We make government very accessible. We are here to help.”

Some of Manchester’s largest employers are post-secondary schools. “In the city alone we have 10 or 11 college university systems,” Mr. Craig reports. With so many educational opportunities, the community has “a good, trained and ready workforce.” Manchester also has a wide range of financial services employers as well as a strong healthcare system that includes two hospitals.

Most notably, tech companies have been pouring into the community since 2009. “There has been a lot of high tech innovation being promoted in the city,” Mr. Craig observes. “It’s got that feeling of a place where people can start up and where people can be successful.” And successful ventures and ideas “feed off each other,” leading to even more tech sector growth.

Dyn is one of Manchester’s most well-known tech companies. The firm is a global leader in internet performance and boasts world class customers including Twitter, Netflix, Pandora, Zappos, and CNBC. “When you walk into one of their offices you feel like you are in Silicon Valley,” Mr. Craig remarks. “They are really helping to foster a culture of innovation here.”

Gray Chynoweth, Dyn’s Chief Operating Officer, says that Manchester is an ideal place for the company’s corporate headquarters. “We love being in Manchester. It is really part of who we are.” The city’s location is key. “Manchester is a great place to be a tech company because it is closer to Boston than San Jose is to San Francisco. We feel like we are very much in the mix of the high tech scene in the northeast.”

The large population of students, both in Manchester and in neighboring communities, also makes the city a great place for a leading edge tech company to do business. “It is always a race to [acquire] talent, and we think we have great access to talent [via] schools in New Hampshire and Massachusetts,” Mr. Chynoweth points out.

The community’s entrepreneurial spirit is also important. “The interesting thing about Manchester is that it has real roots in innovation,” Mr. Chynoweth remarks. “Industry leaders in Manchester revolutionized what was high tech in its day, in the mid-1800s, building the largest textile manufacturing center in the world before that got outsourced to the south and other parts of the globe.” The city’s mill days are long gone, but the underlying energy remains. “That spirit of hard work and innovation persists today.”

Dyn is committed to helping Manchester reach its full potential as a 21st century city. “We are really committed to the community’s long term opportunity because that is our long term opportunity,” Mr. Chynoweth explains. “That is why we care a lot about workforce development. That is why we care a lot about the technology ecosystem. That is why we care a lot about innovation. Because those are the things that we think, over time, make Dyn really successful and make the community really successful.”

Companies like Dyn are also attracted to Manchester because of the community’s fantastic livability. “People find that the location of Manchester is ideal for its workers to live in based on its proximity to Boston, to the mountains, and to the ocean,” says Mr. Craig. “We are 50 minutes from Boston, 45 minutes from the beach, and an hour from the White Mountains. You can live all sorts of different lives and have all sorts of hobbies that are within an hour’s drive. That’s something that you can’t do in many places in the country.”

Manchester’s youthful energy and bustling downtown are also big draws. “Manchester has a fun, dynamic downtown,” Mr. Craig remarks. “Being a good place to do business also means being a good place for your employees to be after 5:00. Our downtown has become a fun, exciting hub filled with cool restaurants and all different kinds of foods. That might not sound too exciting, but when you think of yourself as a mill city in New England, particularly New Hampshire, to have this fun and diverse crowd of restaurants and people is really exciting.” This diversity and energy is “fed by the huge population of young college aged students here,” Mr. Craig explains.

Manchester’s modest size and eclectic nightlife create an ideal balance, Mr. Chynoweth adds. “The great thing about Manchester is that it is a little bit more ‘bite sized’ than a city like Boston, but still has urban offerings. We have good nightlife, great restaurants – and we are less than an hour from Boston.” This combination creates “a big city feel without the big city hassle,” Mr. Craig adds.

That mix of convenience and amenities also helps businesses attract top notch talent. “As the Millennial generation comes of age, they don’t necessarily want a big city but they still want urbanism,” Mr. Chynoweth points out. “Manchester is a great spot to choose. You can really have it all here.”

Manchester also has the shopping opportunities that a young, educated workforce wants. “You don’t need to go to Boston for retail; we have everything you need here,” Mr. Craig reports. For instance, Mall of New Hampshire, one of the largest malls in the state, is located on a busy, commercial street in Manchester alongside many other retailers.

As Manchester continues to prepare for the future, officials are working to secure a rail line to Boston. “I think that will dramatically change the face of this city and the state in such a positive way,” Mr. Craig remarks. Boston would become even more accessible, encouraging more people to live and work in Manchester. “The state is now in the process of completing a feasibility study,” Mr. Craig reports. “Rail is something people have talked about here for 30 years, but it seems like now it is well within reach. There is a great grassroots momentum from the businesses community, from young people – from everybody. We all recognize what the rail could mean to our city.”

Manchester is no longer the sleepy ex-mill town it once was. The city has grown to become the business and financial center of Northern New England and an increasing number of people want to live and work there. “When you graduate from high school, everyone feels like they can’t wait to get out of their hometown,” Mr. Craig, who is a Manchester native and a member of the millennial generation, reflects. “But fewer and fewer people are leaving. Overall the graying of New Hampshire is a concern, but my generation is now seeing Manchester as – for lack of a better term – a cool place to

July 17, 2018, 7:29 AM EDT

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