One of the aspects of working at the Chamber that I love most is the opportunity to interact with community leaders and learn about the important initiatives they are working on to improve our community. We are truly fortunate in Manchester to have so many great leaders in our community who are planning for the future and tackling some of the most challenging and complex issues we face. I’d like to take this opportunity share with you three initiatives underway in our city that I believe hold great promise and are deserving of our attention and engagement.
The Manchester Immigrant Integration Initiative is an effort to ensure our community is welcoming new immigrants and connecting them to the resources they need to successfully integrate into the community and local economy. Perhaps most interesting for the Chamber within this initiative is the focus on opportunities and ideas that support “immigrant driven economic development”. Many cities and regions across the country have successfully implemented similar initiatives that have resulted in job growth, immigrant entrepreneurs starting businesses, and strengthening of the local workforce by providing training resources that are aligned with business needs. The Initiative is an ongoing effort with volunteer committees working on different aspects of the project. I’d encourage any business interested in learning more to contact Peter Cooke of Cooke Associates and Mukhtar Idhow at the Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success (ORIS) to discuss how to get involved.
The Manchester Neighborhood Health Improvement Strategy is an exciting community initiative spearheaded by the Manchester Health Department that seeks to create healthier and more stable neighborhoods across Manchester with a particular focus on specific areas of our community that are facing significant challenges in the areas of public safety, health, education, and poverty. These issues not only pose real challenges for the City, but also feed into the perception that our community is unsafe or that the education system is failing. The NHIS strategy document is a must read for anyone interested in doing a deep dive into the challenges facing our city and the many solutions at our fingertips. One of the most impressive aspects of this initiative is the support that has assembled behind it from business leaders, policymakers, and the non-profit community. Tim Soucy and Anna Thomas of the Health Department are doing incredible work on this important initiative and would gladly speak to any business or group on how they can get involved.
Manchester Connects is a newer initiative focused long term community planning and visioning around the Millyard and downtown areas. Manchester Connects started as an ad-hoc group of citizens (led by Cliff Hurst) that started a discussion around how to revitalize the Manchester’s riverfront area. Those discussions progressed to this exciting community initiative backed by the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and a consultant, CivicMoxie. CivicMoxie is now in the process of holding stakeholder interviews and ultimately, in conjunction with local volunteers, plans to develop and unveil a new plan and vision for the Millyard and downtown Manchester. The plan will include specific ideas and “action kits” so groups like the Chamber can advocate and implement ideas that align with our interests and goals. If you are interested in influencing the future vision for Manchester, join the conversation now! Check out the public Facebook group “Manchester Connects” to learn more.
These are just a few of the great initiatives underway in our community. The fact that inspiring work like this is underway should be a source of community pride and motivation to get involved for us all!