MANCHESTER, NH – Tom Fuller grew up in Woburn, Mass., and attended Bentley University in Waltham. He was a dedicated Massachusetts resident, and never considered living in New Hampshire, although as a kid it was a favorite family vacation destination for hiking and skiing. Then at the age of 26 he started dating someone from New Hampshire, and they decided to head north together.
“That’s when I found an opportunity at Eversource,” says Fuller, who is an energy efficiency analyst. That was two years ago, and he and his partner have settled in the Lakes Region, but feel they have the best of all worlds now that they’re living in New Hampshire.
“There’s no traffic like there was in Massachusetts and I have all the amenities of a professional environment like you would find in Boston, plus I am able to work in a field where I can combine my passion for sustainability with my work,” Fuller says. “Everything has worked out perfectly.”
Fuller was one of the featured speakers during an intimate but important after-hours splash on Wednesday to introduce a new collaborative initiative by Stay Work Play, Eversource and the Greater Manchester Chamber.
An “Insider’s Guide to Greater Manchester” is the first in a series of regional online guidebooks targeted to young professionals, but available to anyone interested in exploring all the food, fun and activities New Hampshire has to offer.
Stay Work Play Executive Director Will Stewart says he has always viewed New Hampshire as “a state of best-kept secrets,” and so creating a guide to help shine a light on the best offerings in each region seemed like a no-brainer.
Stewart happens to be a fan of inside information and even penned a book in 2016 called “An Insider’s Guide to Manchester,” which actually was the springboard for these regional guides.
“One of our board members at the time said wouldn’t it be cool if we had guides like your book all across the state?” and that was a couple of years ago, says Stewart. Then, in December of 2017 Stay Work Play commissioned a survey of young New Hampshire professionals to find out what factored into their decision to stay or leave.
“One of the things we found out is about a third of respondents said they were either likely or very likely to leave the state in the next two years,” Stewart says.
The reasons were varied, but in the context of creating regional insider’s guides, Stewart says the most mentioned reasons for leaving included lack of entertainment options and lack of affordable housing. The reasons to stay, hands down, was New Hampshire’s outdoor recreational oppotunities.
“To a certain extent New Hampshire has a perception problem. From the outside, it may seem like hey, it’s New Hampshire and there’s nothing to do there, but those who live here know that’s not the case,” says Stewart. “What we do have are a lot of great things to do, but we’re not always the best at promoting those things.”
That is where the guides come in. Getting the word out will include partnering with young professional groups and organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) which can connect companies to the guides who can use them as another attraction and retention tool in their employers’ tool belts.
“Human resources professionals tell us that they’re increasingly having to ‘sell’ potential employees not just the jobs they’re trying to fill, or the company, but also the communities and regions in which the jobs are located,” Stewart says.
The next edition will be the Greater Concord Guide, and so Stewart says they are tapping young professionals there to get authentic inside info to include in that guide. Other guides will roll out every two months.
Another strategy to getting the word out they’re working on will be to create coasters to distribute in downtown pubs and eateries during Thanksgiving season, also known as “boomerang week,” when young people traditionally come back to the area and spend time circulating around the hot spots to socialize and catch up with old friends.
“The hope is that by having guides like this for all around the state, no matter where people are coming from – whether living in California or Texas or wherever – they might look at it out of curiosity and find out there are now five Indian restaurants in Manchester, a slam poetry competition every Wednesday in the Millyard, or that there’s an independent movie theater in Concord,” Stewart says.
“We call them signs of life, things that make a place interesting. Even if you’re not into a lot of the things you see, they represent that this is an interesting place with people doing interesting things, and that you can meet some of those people and enjoy all a place has to offer,” he says.
Fuller says he views Manchester differently now that he’s on the inside, and has found the corporate culture at Eversource to be everything he was looking for, something Eversource Senior Media Specialst Kaitlyn Woods says is by design.
She mentions a recent hire who came from New York, who was attracted to New Hampshire for the job, but is integrating smoothly thanks to the company’s Young Professional Resource groups, a facet of their Diversity and Inclusion Council, which allow employees to connect in the workplace as well as find activities outside the workplace.
“These guides will be a big part of that, because it’s not all about work. Employees want and need to enjoy the community they’re working in,” Woods says.