Topics

2621837982_a88e536ab8

How The Lakes Region Economy Works

Background

Ghandi's Lament/Dave / Flickr

This page is no longer being updated. For ongoing coverage of this topic, go to New Hampshire Public Radio.

______

The Lakes Region covers a good portion of central New Hampshire, including all of Belknap County along with parts of Carroll, Grafton and Merrimack Counties.

Like the neighboring White Mountains, the Lakes Region depends heavily on outdoor tourism to support its economy.  About 85 percent of the area is woods, including a number of conservation lands, state parks, and town forests.  It’s also home to New Hampshire’s largest lake, Winnipesaukee, along with 272 others.  Between the area’s rivers, lakes and groundwater, the Lakes Region is home to about 42 percent of the water in New Hampshire.

The region’s rural setting and numerous lakes have spurred rapid development of seasonal homes.  While statewide, the U.S. Census Bureau found only 7.8 percent of people worked in construction, in Belknap County, that figure is 10.6 percent.  The portion of houses built in Belknap County from 1980-2005 also slightly outpaces the state as a whole.  Some towns, like Freedom, Moultonbourough, Hebron, and Tuftonboro, report that more than half the homes are seasonal.

While this high-end construction boom has bolstered the tourism industry by ensuring a steady stream of repeat visitors, it’s hurt the Lakes Region in other ways.  So much shoreline land has been developed that it’s getting harder for visitors and residents to get out on the water.  In some cases, local governments have had to make agreements with home owners to open their land so that other residents and tourists can access the lakes.

The popularity of the Lakes Region as a site for seasonal homes has also raised property values — and rents.  One of the continued challenges the area faces is providing affordable housing for less affluent, year-round residents.

Environmental issues are also a point of concern for the region, where clean water is essential to its brand as a tourist destination.  While it’s a popular place for visitors, the Lakes Region is still very rural, and its infrastructure reflects that character.  Most homes, for example, rely on septic tanks rather than a sewer system.  Broken and poorly maintained tanks — especially in seasonal homes, which remain unoccupied for most of the year — have contributed to problems with E. Coli contamination along some shorelines.

Latest Posts

Getting By, Getting Ahead: Lakes Region Home Builder Adapts To Anemic High-End Market

"I started building in the speculative market in 1987.  My grandparents owned some property up here and decided that they wanted to sell it," says home builder Joe Skiffington.  "And I was doing renovations and construction in the Boston area.  I came up to the lake and I said, you know, I wonder what selling vacation homes would be like?  So I built a couple of them on spec.  These were $79,900, so a far cry from what we're doing today.  But the process was fun."

      As part of our weekly “Getting By, Getting Ahead” series, StateImpact is traveling across New Hampshire, gathering personal stories from the people behind the economy.  In our sixth installment, we talk with a Lakes Region home builder. _____ Summer is boom time on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee.  These are the months [...]

Lakes Region Snapshot: High-End Vacation Homes Impact Year-Round Economy

The market for high-end lakefront properties has slowed down along Lake Winnipesaukee.

Tomorrow morning on NHPR, we’ll hear more from Joe Skiffington, a builder of high-end vacation homes in the Lakes Region.  Joe’s story is Part Six of our series “Getting By, Getting Ahead,” examining how people across New Hampshire’s seven regions are navigating a recovering economy. ___ Driving through New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, it’s not uncommon to stumble [...]

High Hopes In N.H. This Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start to summer — for New Hampshire’s Division of Travel and Tourism Development, at least. The DTTD just launched a television marketing campaign in Boston and New York featuring happy kids running in the woods and playing on the beach. This year, the tourism office predicts that visitors will spend $86 [...]

This Week’s Essential StateImpact

Sparkly Shoes

It’s that time of the week again!  We’ve rounded-up the Top Five StateImpact posts that crowd wisdom decided were on this week’s must-read list. How Junk Mail Is Helping To Prop Up The Postal Service: After a brief hiatus from our Most-Read roundup, this post is back!  It’s a combination of humor, hard facts, and [...]

Why NH’s Waterfront Market Might Be On The Rebound

Lake Winnepesaukee

“Could the era of numerous big dollar waterfront sales be returning?” That’s the question Roy Sanborn, a realtor in Meredith, NH, posed in a column on Saturday in the Laconia Daily Sun. According to data compiled for the month of April from the Northern New England Real Estate MLS System, the average sales price of a home [...]

Survey Says Not All NH Counties Equally Small Business-Friendly

A recent survey found that perceptions of NH's small business-friendliness vary widely by region

If you’re looking for some of the happiest small business owners in the state, the Monadnock Region would be a good place to start. Recently, we looked at how the Granite State stacks-up to the rest of the country in terms of its small business environment.  A survey of about 6,000 business owners released by [...]

NH Imports 100 Jobs From China

Watts Water Technologies in Franklin plans on importing 100 jobs to the area from China

A New England-based manufacturer is moving some of its operations from China to New Hampshire–and bringing 100 new jobs with it.  Watts Water Technologies is building up its facilities in Franklin.  As Dan Seufert reports for the Union-Leader: “Watts Water Technologies Inc., which operates Webster Valve, is building the new 30,000-square-foot building to accommodate new [...]

Tracing NH’s Slog Toward Economic Recovery

When Different Parts Of The Country May Recover

A recent piece in the New York Times lays out what many Americans already believe: For much of the country, economic recovery is a ways off.  Reporter Michael Cooper writes: “Less than a tenth of the nation’s metropolitan areas have regained the jobs they lost in the economic downturn, according to a report… Only 26 [...]

Best Of StateImpact: Why The Vacation Home Market Matters

Recreation--both summer and winter--is a huge driver of NH's second home market

Working on a site that deals with business and the economy, we look at a lot of reports.  Economic reports, financial reports, government analyses…it goes on and on.  So when we heard about the importance of second homes to New Hampshire’s economy, our first instinct was to reach for a report. We came up empty-handed. [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »

Economy
Education