Has the secret been unlocked?
Has New Hampshire—ranked as the second oldest in the country—found a way to market itself in order to finally retain and attract a younger workforce?
We’re about to find out.
According to SmartAsset’s third annual census-based study released earlier this year, New Hampshire ranked 10th among all states for the highest net migration within the coveted 20-34 millennial demographic. And Manchester ranked 20th nationally among all U.S. cities for net migration—the only city in New England to crack the top 25.
Can we keep this momentum going? In marketing, it’s one thing to get someone’s attention, but the real win comes when you stay top of mind. This is the challenge for all of us who have devoted ourselves to marketing New Hampshire—to remain relevant, memorable and favored.
Working with the Community College System of New Hampshire (see case study) has given us a unique perspective of retention when it comes to the Millennial/Gen Z generations. We know the challenges and get excited when we see the successes.
So, what’s next for New Hampshire in this ongoing campaign for millennials?
As Will Stewart, Executive Director of Stay Work Play NH, puts it, New Hampshire needs to “keep doing what we’re doing and double down on it.”
Stewart, who is also a Manchester alderman, knows all too well about the importance of maintaining this momentum.
There are 20,000 or so unfilled jobs in the state, and some businesses are getting to the point where they may pull up stakes and leave New Hampshire. Finding affordable housing is difficult and public transportation is scant. But despite these barriers, more young people are finding New Hampshire an attractive place to live. How do we make sure more keep coming?
Stewart believes New Hampshire businesses need to do more than sell their job opportunities to lure people here. They need to sell New Hampshire.
New Hampshire is a special place (read this blog) to live and work. There are reasons why we consistently rank among the top states for quality of life. It’s not necessarily a hard sell.
Old Home Days? Boomerang Week?
It’s All About Getting them to Come Back
Stay Work Play staged Boomerang Week around Thanksgiving, marketing New Hampshire to the young people who have left the state, but one day may “boomerang” back here to live and raise a family. Stewart and his team greeted people at the airport as they came home to visit for the break. They set up events at bars and restaurants and held an online contest with the goal of collecting email addresses in order to stay close and keep the conversation going.
John Clayton, author and Executive Director of the Manchester Historic Association, reminds us that this has happened before in New Hampshire. Former governor Frank Rollins started Old Home Days back in 1899 to restore pride in the smaller cities and towns around the state that were losing people to western migration or to better jobs in the cities.
Old Home Days caught on and spread through the country. It was a good piece of marketing, for sure. Maybe Boomerang Week will catch on like that someday.
Stewart believes groups like Stay Work Play, state agencies and chambers of commerce are doing a better job of working together to promote New Hampshire to younger people. This needs to continue.
A New Beginning in an Old Setting
Clayton urges us to learn valuable lessons from the rich history of the Millyard, going all the way back to its beginnings as it was growing into a textile giant in the 1800s. The Millyard was built on actively attracting and recruiting workers—some laborers and some skilled, such as lace makers from Belgium and dye makers from Scotland.
The Millyard of today is again a burgeoning hub of activity for the city and the state, with its mix of high tech, education and business. And once again, we are attracting bright minds who are coming here for the opportunities.
“I am surrounded by history, but I think and talk about the future all the time,” Clayton says. “We’ve been through this before and been successful. We can certainly do it again.”
Clayton sees the people here as the best marketers to sell Manchester and New Hampshire to the next generation. They are the ones who will help keep this momentum going.
Frank Rollins would be proud.