New Stores Arrive on D'Amante Drive
Men's Wearhouse, Great Clips, and Sprint moving into new building.
Three new tenants are moving into a new row of stores on D’Amante Drive.
The building was approved last June although the potential tenants were not revealed to the public until recently.
Deputy City Manager – Development Carlos Baia noted in his recent Concord Development Newsletter that these three stores are the latest new projects for the east side of Concord. Buffalo Wild Wings was recently approved for Loudon Road and is expected to be constructed by September; the CVS and new Burger King are currently being constructed on Loudon Road and East Side Drive; and Dollar Tree and Ocean State Job Lot have opened their doors during the last year and change. While Baia did not know the exact number, he guesstimated that after all the projects are completed, the number of new jobs from those eight businesses would be “around 200.”
Of the 13 cities in the state, Concord had the fifth lowest unemployment for 2011 at 4.7 percent. That figure is down from 5.8 percent in 2009 and 5.6 percent in 2010.
“It’s gotten progressively better since the drop in 2008,” he said.
However the challenge for current and potential new employers remains.
“When we visit with business CEOs, they tell us that the challenge for them is finding people who are qualified and willing to work super aggressive schedules,” Baia said. “It’s mostly start-ups, high tech, with real specific skill sets.”
Countering the stereotype that Concord is a bedroom community with a conservative social life is also difficult. Most of the companies are looking for younger, skilled workers, in their 20s and 30s. Those workers tend to come as far north as Manchester but not any further, according to Baia.
At the same time, the city is trying to partner with NHTI in an effort to boost skillsets amongst the workforce and connect those employees with companies.
“We tout anything it is that will be of value,” he said. “We want to make sure they are aware of it. I think it is working reasonably well. I’m not going to say that there is a direct correlation between a certain company’s growth and what we’ve been doing. But it has helped.”
While the city has been weathering the difficult economic climate just like everyone, Concord has seen tremendous development growth in the last several years. Baia said that $81 million in new construction was built in 2011, up from $76 million in 2010. Right now, 2012 is on track to have at least $40 million to $50 million in new properties constructed. If Concord Power and Steam comes to fruition, the new taxable properties in Concord will be in the $25 million to $30 million range.
“I challenge any other New Hampshire community to show the kind of growth we’ve had in the last several years,’ he said.
Baia started the newsletter last year in an effort to get more development information out to people who are involved with other businesses, land professionals, and real estate agents. Currently, the newsletter comes out twice a year but he’s hoping to boost that up to a quarterly.
He hopes that the newsletter and all the economic development news from Concord create “a buzz” that the city is a place that companies can come and do business with. In the past, the city had a reputation – whether warranted or not, Baia noted – that it was a difficult place to do business. But incrementally, city officials have been able to turn that reputation around a bit.
“It’s really a customer service approach,” he said. “A lot of people are saying it’s easier to do business in Concord than Portsmouth … that’s a good thing … we are going to get those bigger, very good, stable companies into the community.”