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On the positive side
Fifteen good things that happened in 2016

12/29/16



At the capital

Concord’s Main Street project finally concluded with its more pedestrian-friendly redesign. That means less difficulty driving through downtown and getting redirected by construction detours, and in the long term it means getting to enjoy a more aesthetically pleasing and walkable capital.
 
At the pump
The average price of gasoline in New Hampshire saw an eight-year low in February when it fell to $1.68 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com. And while it’s risen somewhat since then, it’s seemed to have plateaued around $2.25 over the last few months of the year, give or take. Throughout the whole year, the prices in New Hampshire have remained, on average, lower than the national average and the average prices in any other New England state.
It may seem like everything is more expensive these days, but it’s important to remember how cheap gas was at the pump this year. 
 
In the woods
Conservation officers with New Hampshire Fish and Game say the bobcat population is continuing to rebound. This has been attributed to a hunting ban in 1989 as well as forest regrowth and an effort to bring back wild turkeys. There are now an estimated 1,400 bobcats in the state, according to UNH researchers.
The success of the wild turkeys began with a project in the 1970s to swap fishers from our state for 26 turkeys from other states. We now have an estimated 40,000 turkeys roaming our state, and bobcats reportedly like to eat them as much as we do. Turkeys were wiped out in the state back during colonial times by both Europeans and Native Americans.
While it’s American tradition to pardon a turkey every year, there is another bird that is more patriotic than them all: the bald eagle. In the late 1980s, the state had only one breeding pair. Now, there are about 90 individual eagles and New Hampshire Audubon biologists say all signs point to continued population growth.
Another great thing that happened in the woods this year was the outstanding fall foliage. We northerners may take it for granted most years, but it’s hard not to give the trees a round of applause for that show — encore.
 
At the workshop
The startup and high-tech scene is blossoming in southern New Hampshire. For evidence of this, one need only look at new spaces for tinkerers and entrepreneurs that have cropped up over the year. 
Manchester got its own makerspace for the first time in May and it’s already up to 40 members with money in the bank, corporate sponsors and local artists getting involved as well, according to Steve Korzyniowski with the Manchester Makerspace. It’s at 36 Old Granite St.
In Nashua, the makerspace MakeIt Labs has expanded with its move down the street to 25 Crown St. It went from a 6,000-square-foot space to a 16,000-square foot space. Director Adam Shrey said they officially opened the new space in March and they’ve since doubled their membership to about 175. Shrey said they now have about three-quarters of the 10 or so private working spaces occupied. MakeIt Labs is finishing its second year of fundraising so it can expand even further into the second floor of their building for co-working space needed for budding businesses.
Speaking of business, Nashua also got a new startup incubator in the same vein as Manchester’s Alpha Loft. The new incubator is called nashuaHUB. Nashua native and Silicon Valley executive Brendan Keegan made a career out of turning around troubled businesses and now he’s using his expertise to help local small businesses, according to partner Amanda Rogers. He co-founded nashuaHUB in May at 4 Water St. with the CEO of local manufacturing firm RAPID.
 
In the rankings
The state’s businesses have a lot to be thankful for, since they have the honor of operating in the most business-friendly state in the nation, according to CNBC’s annual competitiveness ranking. New Hampshire was also ranked No. 4 in the quality of life category of the same ranking.
According to WalletHub, New Hampshire was the 11th “happiest” state in the nation and the happiest of all New England states. That was determined by scoring a combination of physical and emotional well-being, work environment and community and environment.
An analysis of federal data by the Washington Post found that New Hampshire had the lowest rates of gun homicides in the country. 
WalletHub also ranked New Hampshire the third safest state after Vermont and Massachusetts. New Hampshire scored highest in New England and fourth overall in the financial safety subcategory. 
Which makes sense, because a separate ranking by WalletHub found that the state has the highest financial literacy in the whole country. In the subcategories of that study, New Hampshire came in first for financial planning and daily habits and had the second-lowest borrowing rates from non-banks. The state also made it to the list of top five states that don’t stash money in their homes and have the most sustainable spending habits. How’s that for yankee frugality?
New Hampshirites have good gums. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state has the second lowest rates of periodontal disease, which can range from minor inflammation to severe diseases that result in the loss of teeth. Only Utah had better gums.





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