NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Maybe it's true, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The state recently made an offer to 800 small-business owners in Massachusetts to lure them to New Hampshire.
So far, only one person has accepted the deal.
Michael Bergeron, spokesman for the state's Open Invitation initiative, would not identify the Bay State business owner considering expansion in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire's Division of Economic Development contacted businesses that expressed an interest in the state, Bergeron said, while others were invited because they are listed in a regional directory.
The names remain confidential until the business owners actually move to the Granite State, he said. Two others also responded. Both are interested but would not commit to the visit until after Jan. 1.
The overall response has been good, he said, especially since the invitations only were sent in late November.
The goal is to let the decision makers know about New Hampshire's advantages, low taxes, easy access to political leaders, and quality of life.
There is no other specific goal, such as a target number of business leaders who accept the offer or ultimately relocate their companies.
"It's an awareness program," Bergeron said.
The free offer includes chauffeur and limousine service to one of the Common Man restaurants for breakfast or lunch with a member of the New Hampshire business recruitment team. The trip continues with a tour of available units and suitable locations.
Besides the ride and the meal, the state is throwing in complimentary lift tickets for Cannon Mountain (worth about $64 for an adult day pass) and tickets to a Manchester Monarchs hockey game, good for anytime this season. The day ends with free overnight accommodations at the state's largest hotel, the Radisson Hotel Nashua.
The deal is paid for by New Hampshire businesses. For example, Joseph Seluk of Concord, owner of Capital City Limo, provides the chauffeur and limousine. Asked how much it costs him to pick up a client at a Bay State business, he said the trip from Logan International Airport to Concord costs about $110.
Seluk said he will stand by his offer even if all 800 business owners accept.
"The way I look at it, that's 800 new clients, and I could spend thousands and thousands of dollars sitting here and trying to meet them," he said. Seluk said he believes in the incentive program because he used to own firms in Massachusetts and thinks the economic climate is better in New Hampshire.
"There's no sales tax," he said. "And local residents support local businesses, especially in Concord."
Steve Lambert, regional vice president of operations at the Radisson Hotel Nashua, said the cost of a complimentary room is "fairly nominal" because the hotel is large. "I fish for the big fish," he said. In return for a free night, he might land a customer who reserves 30 or 40 rooms a year.
Asked about putting up all 800 if everyone accepted, Lambert said he might be reluctant to take a risk if he were running an 80-room hotel, but the Radisson has more than 300 rooms and can make a profit even if a few guests stay there for free.
Besides, it's an investment to bring in someone who may move a business to New Hampshire, he said.
Source: Eagle Tribune