Topics

What You Need To Know About The White Mountains Economy

Background

Amanda Loder / StateImpact New Hampshire

The natural beauty of the White Mountains makes the region a natural draw for tourists and retirees

This page is no longer being updated.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

______

The White Mountains region of New Hampshire covers 46 towns across swaths of Grafton, Carroll, and Coos counties.

As home to the White Mountains National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park (formerly home of the state’s iconic Old Man of the Mountain), and ski resorts, the region is a natural destination for tourists and retirees.  For example, the U.S. Census Bureau reports 90 percent of homes in the Waterville Valley are seasonal, as is 70 percent of Lincoln’s housing stock.  Yet, the White Mountains is one of the most sparsely populated sections of the state, after the North Country.

Over the years, however, the White Mountains have become more commercialized.  A number of national chain retail, restaurant, and hotel franchises believe the thriving tourism industry has created a strong market for their brands.  This is especially true in North Conway, which is home to a number of retail outlets.

Despite these successes, the area does face some major challenges. With a poverty rate of 5.9 percent, it’s the third poorest portion of the state, after the North Country (9.5 percent) and the Lakes Region (6.5 percent).  And like those neighboring regions, the White Mountains’ heavy dependence on the tourism industry leaves it more vulnerable to economic disruption than areas with a more diversified workforce.  During the summer of 2011, for example, the region took a heavy hit with flooding and wind damage from Tropical Storm Irene.  Some residents also fear that the controversial Northern Pass power project could disrupt the scenic views that draw outside money to the region.

Latest Posts

NH Tourism Up Despite Irene Damage

Four days ago, StateImpact, along with other New Hampshire media outlets, was questioning how many tourists–and how much tourism money–the state would bring in over the Labor Day weekend.  After all, visitors and residents alike have been confused about the status some of New Hampshire’s remoter roads that are key to the tourism industry.  Even […]

Four NH Counties Qualify For FEMA Relief

A big piece of news broke over Labor Day weekend: President Obama has approved FEMA aid for four New Hampshire counties.  As NHPR’s Chris Jensen reported, Merrimack, Carroll, Grafton and Coos Counties were damaged enough by Tropical Storm Irene to qualify for federal help,  “’The state and communities in those four counties are now eligible […]

Vacation Homes in New Hampshire: The Who, The What and The Where

If you’ve got five minutes to burn, check out StateImpact’s town-by-town interactive map. Just find your town, click on it, and see how many vacation homes are there, and what percentage of the housing stock they make up. If you’ve got 10 minutes, you can get the context behind the numbers with our written analysis. And if you’ve got an hour or more, the map will keep you very, very entertained. Trust us.

A New Look For The Broken Old Man

This month, State Impact is digging into New Hampshire’s tourism economy, and this piece by Charles Pierce of the Boston Globe caught our eye.  Back in 2003, New Hampshire’s leading symbol–the Old Man of the Mountain, finally collapsed.  “Now, though, through…[the] Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, and through the work of a sculptor […]

Rural NH Childcare Centers Get A Pair Of Federal Grants

It’s been a busy week on the rural economy beat, thanks to President Obama’s newly-released rural jobs initiative.  As part of that push today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a series of rural development grants and loans awarded to states as part of the clunkily-named “USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities Program.”  The idea, Vilsack said, […]

Alien Abduction A Tourism Draw?

If you haven’t heard of Betty and Barney Hill, you either weren’t born–or very old–before the 1960’s, or you’re not terribly interested in (alleged) alien abductions. I promise, this really (might) have to do with business. Anyway, the Hills were a Portsmouth couple who were driving through the White Mountains in 1961 when they claimed to have seen a […]

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