Living in Mt. Washington Valley

Choosing to live among unspoiled, ageless and natural beauty, growing numbers of entrepreneurs are finding they can live and work where they choose to play. Establishing their new businesses in the Mount Washington Valley, these pioneers are helping the region nurture a new economy.

As the state's most entrepreneurial area, with 30 percent of the jobs being proprietorships, "the region is poised for the kind of growth policymakers have been trying to bring to the northern part of the state," says Brian Gottlob, principal of Dover-based PolEcon Research, an economic consulting firm. In October 2001, the firm published a study on the region entitled "A View of the Mt. Washington Valley's Regional Contribution to the Growing NH Economy," funded through a grant provided by Public Service of NH.

Conway, with a population of 8,604 in 2000. is the primary business community of the region's 20 towns. Long misunderstood by people below the notches, the Mount Washington Valley region is quietly rallying against a general misconception that "all of the North Country is a land of 'poverty with a view,"' says Gottlob.

Although the economy continues to diversify and develop a broader base, "the engine that drives the region is, and always will be, tourism," says Jac Cuddy, executive director of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council. Destinations for much of that tourism include numerous family and natural attractions throughout the 770,000-acre White Mountain National Forest, and three of NH's four grand resort hotels: The Balsams in Dixville Notch, The Mount Washington Hotel and Resort in Bretton Woods, and the newly reopened Mountain View Grand in Whitefield. ...

* Technology Village Park

"Our plan is to diversify the area's economy by creating a Technology Village Park campus on 81 acres along the Saco River in Conway, with walking trails and five office buildings totaling 125,000 square feet, where between 500 and 700 people will be employed within 10 years," says Cuddy. Construction on the first building, which will house the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council, an incubator project, and a training center, is scheduled to begin late summer of 2003, with completion set for late summer of 2004.

The Technology Village Business Incubator, which began operating in January, is the first of its kind in the state and in the rural U.S., according to Cuddy. To be accepted into the incubator project, businesses must be technology-based, go through an application process and demonstrate a mission to grow and employ people. The incubator provides space, counseling and advice to help small businesses grow and prosper.

"The Council's mission is to create a technology base in the North Country so we can help increase wage-earning abilities for the people living in the region," he says.

"The incubator has done so much for us as a fledgling business," says Lisa Surette, an in-migrant from St. Louis and president of North Country Graphics, LLC.

"We won Fledgling Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2000 for the Mount Washington Valley Region. Our business increased by 23 percent in the last four months just by being here in the incubator. The resources they offer are phenomenal."

Five businesses are operating in the incubator: Emerlyn, LLC, designers of custom software products for retail, hospitals and institutional pharmacies; Morpheus Technology Group (see "Who's Who" sidebar); North Country Graphics, designers specializing in Internet marketing; Northledge Technologies, systems integrators specializing in business and home networking; and Visual Legacy, LLC, which updates and modernizes legacy software to operate within Windows and on the Web