Renewable Energy Entrepreneur Talks Benefits, Challenges Of Going Green In N.H.

Amanda Loder / StateImpact New Hampshire

The crew at Revolution Energy are behind one of the Green Launching Pad's biggest success stories. (From left: Co-founder Mike Behrmann, Chief Scientific Officer Jon Spencer, and Co-founder Clay Mitchell.)

This week, StateImpact will be checking-in on the progress of the University of New Hampshire‘s Green Launching Pad initiative.  Begun in 2010 with $1.5 million in federal stimulus money, the GLP’s goal is to provide seed money, UNH faculty business expertise, and student interns to entrepreneurs in the state’s growing green sectors.

One of the Green Launching Pad’s biggest success stories has been Portsmouth-based Revolution Energy.  While the company started in 2008, it didn’t really start taking off until 2010.  That’s when it received a competitive $60,000 grant from the GLP in the initiative’s first round of funding. In a lot of ways, Revolution Energy looks and feels a lot like a classic start-up.  At the office, the team wears casual clothes, and the decor alternates between Dungeons and Dragons classic geek-chic and internet-age irony.

Good humor, hoodies and 20-sided dice aside, sustainability is serious business for the crew at Revolution Energy. Continue Reading

Brookings Report Shows Rail Ridership Up Nationally, 55 Percent

“American passenger rail is in the midst of a renaissance,” writes Robert Puentes, the author of the Brookings Institution’s new report on Amtrak ridership in America. At 55 percent, growth in ridership “far outpaces growth in population and economic output” between 1997 and the present. And the Northeast is at the center of a lot of that activity.

Brookings Institution Infographic

Check out the Brookings Institution’s interactive map, blogpost, and full report. The report includes recommendations to state and federal policymakers, and is titled: “American Passenger Rrail In An Era Of Fiscal Restraint.”

If Bumpy Roads Make You Grumpy, Click Here

We want you to send us pictures of the worst roads you have to drive on.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

South St. in Concord is on NHDOT's list of roads in poor condition.

New Hampshire roads are in bad shape — and, according to state and city officials, they’re getting worse. While we work on a series about why our roads are deteriorating so fast, we hope you’ll get in touch with pictures or stories about that epic-ly beat up road you’d rather not drive on.

Send pictures, with some location information to Or, tweet us at @StateImpactNH.

Casino Could Bring N.H. More Costs Than Revenue, New Report Finds

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Charity gaming at Rockingham Park in Salem -- the most likely location for a high end Casino.

A new report finds that a casino may create more social costs than tax revenue, mostly because of the 30 percent tax rate included in the Senate bill supported by Governor Hassan.

“The tax rate set at 30% puts us in a situation where the social costs outweigh or come close to outweighing the revenue benefits to the state,” says Steve Norton, the director of the Center for Public Policy Studies, which produced the report.

The so-called “social costs” include unemployment benefits; welfare; arrests; corrections; divorce; health problems and bankruptcy resulting from an increase in problem and pathological gamblers.

Increasing the tax rate proposed in the bill would make a casino more profitable in the long term. However, Norton says, a casino developer would likely only agree to a higher tax rate if the initial license fee were reduced from the $80 million proposed in the Senate bill. Continue Reading

How N.H.’s Budding Video Game Industry Is Getting Gobbled Up By Boston

New Hampshire is attracting more young video game designers. The question is, can the state capture profits by keeping their companies in state? New Hampshire Public Radio’s Ryan Lessard has this story about young designers facing the allure of Boston: 

New Hampshire is the birthplace of video games. No, really. Just ask 90-year-old Manchester resident Ralph Baer. He is widely credited as the “forefather” of the video game.

Courtesy of Neal Laurenza

Screen shot of pre-alpha version of Bacon Man. Certain assets like character design have yet to be added.

“All right, take the hand control. My suggestion is that you do what I do. You hold it up against your belly. Put your hand on the English nob. Forget the horizontal one. It will go just straight up and down because as a beginner you can’t handle three controls.”

We’re playing the original pong game on the very first game console. He thought up the idea of making dots move on a TV screen 1966 while working for a defense contractor in Nashua.

Baer’s biggest legacy though, is helping create a video game industry that today has out-grossed Hollywood with a global revenue of $78.5 billion last year. New Hampshire’s economy, however, has never managed to reap the benefits from his innovation. Continue Reading

A New Push For Commuter Rail

Jerry Huddleston / Flickr Creative Commons

The Governor and Executive Council have agreed to study the feasibility of rail transportation.

This post was written by contributor Sheryl Rich-Kern

Despite concern from opponents about costs, supporters of bringing commuter rail back to the Granite State are determined to keep momentum on track.

For the first time in decades, state lawmakers are looking to restore commuter rail by extending existing rail lines from Lowell, Massachusetts, to Nashua, Manchester and Concord.

And with her city being the first stop over the border, Nashua’s Mayor Donnalee Lozeau is leading efforts to make rail a reality. Continue Reading

Vermont: New Hampshire’s Farm To Plate Test Case

Dyn, Inc.

Manchester's Dyn, Inc has a farm to table menu for their employees

Lawmakers in New Hampshire are considering a program that would convene industry, nonprofit and UNH representatives involved in the state’s local food and agriculture industry. The group would be charged with researching and reporting back to the Department of Agriculture. The bill’s sponsors are using Vermont as a model.

In fact, New Hampshire’s SB141 is based almost word-for-word on Vermont’s farm to plate bill, which passed that state’s legislature four years ago. The major difference is funding, says Senator Martha Fuller Clark, the prime sponsor of the NH bill. While Vermont has allocated $100,000 annually first from federal stimulus funds and then from their general fund – and more recently appropriated another $1.17 million in grant funding for businesses and technical assistance programs which will be distributed using the Farm to Plate guidelines — the New Hampshire bill will not have an appropriation at all. Continue Reading

The House Has Casino Bills, Too

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Rockingham Park Poker Chips

Although Governor Maggie Hassan has thrown her weight behind a gambling bill produced in the Senate, the House Ways and Means committee heard testimony today on two bills sponsored by House members.

Lincoln Representative Edmond Gionet’s bill allows for two casinos – one near the Massachusetts border, like the Senate bill, and another casino, in the White Mountains. Gionet says his proposal would bring just short of  $300 million into the state. And, he says “This bill does not have any politics, it does not have any favoritism.” That’s because it doesn’t specify which towns or developers would get the casino.

The committee also took up a plan sponsored by Representative Steve Vaillancourt. That bill provides for six casinos with a total of 5,000 slot machines.  Each would be staffed, managed, and operated by the state.  Vaillancourt’s bill estimates around $520 million in revenue, and would allow only for video slot machines, not high-stakes table gaming.

Health At Heart Of Hassan Budget (According To This Word Cloud)

Word clouds may be a little “last year,” but that won’t stop us from posting one here — originally published by the Center for Public Policy Studies.

It turns out the word “health” came up a lot in Governor Hassan’s budget speech. That’s interesting because it stands out in the budget spreadsheets, too. The Department of Health and Human Services is seeing the biggest spending increase within the Hassan budget — a “$573 million increase,” according to the Center for Public Policy Studies. Much of that, however, is federal funding, coming from health care expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

2013 Budget Address, In A Word Cloud

Hassan Pitches Casino During Budget Address

Alan Cleaver / Flickr Creative Commons

Hassan's budget gambles on New Hampshire allowing one, high-end casino to set up shop in the state

Governor Maggie Hassan used her budget address to propose a new, high-end casino.

Governor Hassan’s budget banks on this casino generating $80 million in licensing fees.  And she said the state is already dealing with the social costs of gambling allowed in other states, without benefiting from the revenue.

Continue Reading

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