Berlin wants jobs. The city is sagging because there are few viable opportunities, and everyone wants to see that change.
The question is, what kind of jobs? Jobs for whom?
If the city puts an emphasis on creating 21st century jobs, then all the residents who got laid off by the mill will be left out. The skills needed for service sector high-tech jobs are different than the skills needed to fell trees or run a boiler. Replacing those jobs with jobs relevant in the post-industrial economy does nothing for the people laid off there. The jobs will go to outsiders and a select few resident, while doing little for the people who need them most.
Think of the federal prison—37 or younger rules out much of Berlin, leaving residents frustrated and angry.
However, if the city concentrates on revitalizing the wood products industry and puts people who were laid off back to work there will be no reason for the youth of Berlin to return. High school students who go away to college don’t want to come back to log the forest; they want to come back to a place with the infrastructure to support their professional aspirations. And new people don’t want to move to the area either, because there aren’t the opportunities they’re looking for.
Right now, Berlin has a great mix of neither: Blue collar workers are out of a job, young people are leaving, and few new people are moving in. The city has to do something; it has to put its energy somewhere.
Can it do both? Maybe. If one or both of the biomass plants are built they will bring back some of those blue collar jobs, and the city could still concentrate on the new economy. That seems like no one’s ideal solution, but for Berlin compromises are more important than reoccurring inaction.
Can candidates for council really afford to be against any part of either version of new jobs for Berlin?
Mr. Grenier looks at the past nostalgically, but he didn’t mention anything about jobs that would bring people in to Berlin. He is looking to help those that are already there.
Mr. Bertrand wants to move the city forward, but at what cost to the people living there (and voting there) now? Is maintaining steadfast opposition to the controversial Laidlaw project really viable, when it could help so many people and there is no foreseeable viable alternative use for the property?
Berlin needs to create a place for people to come, while not abandoning those who are already there. That’s a tough tightrope to balance, which requires a nuanced policy view. Nuance is not the first word that comes to mind when I look at the candidates running in Berlin’s municipal election. Maybe it will become part of the conversation.
Also, I’m glad to see several people who frequent LPJ are running for council. Tim Cayer, Jon Edwards, Ryan Landry and anyone else running for city government, if you would like to write up a short (500 words or less) statement saying why you are running I’d be happy to post it on here. I will be interviewing everyone running in the coming months, but this will provide you with a little more open forum if you would like it. I know Mr. Cayer, Mr. Edwards and Mr. Landry have my contact information, but for anyone else, shoot me an email at erik dot eisele at gmail dot com.
And please, I’ll cut them off at 500 words so don’t go over, and you can only send me one statement. I will not edit them, so check for typos. I look like an idiot when I have them, you don’t want to be mistaken for the press.
9 thoughts on “Jobs, But For Who?”
This is a very sensitive subject and I'll try to comment without sticking my foot in my mouth. I don't remember exactly what the average age of the mill worker was when Fraser closed the pulp mill 4 years ago, I want to say around 55(+-). If my memory is near correct, that means these workers are now pushing 60. Mid 50's to 60 is a horrible age to look for a job or retrain for a new skill. My heart goes out to those folks, some ended up at WallMart others went on construction and the brave ones started small businesses. Many wives became the primary bread winners in their family and their standard of living fell like a rock. Some of these workers are my relatives others are friends and, I admire the courage they've displayed. Having said all that, the talk about creating blue collar jobs for these guys is not realistic considering all the challenges we face in this new economy. Unfortunately for our past mill workers, the new economy is not friendly to people of their generation or skill set. To think that Berlin can somehow create a new economy that will employ most of these folks is a myth. It's sad to say, but most of these workers are going to remain underemployed until they retire. I believe that the $25.00 per hour + benefits blue collar jobs left with the mills. I believe that we need to do our best to re-invent our economy with a variety of efforts, but we can't narrow our efforts on blue collar jobs which have left not only Berlin, but most industrialized communities in the United States. I don't believe that we should ignore our blue collar workforce, but we won't be able to rebuild our economy around that generation or the skills they have. Life can be cruel and I think the events unfolding at the start of the 21st century are quite sobering. I believe Berlin will be successful at rebuilding its economy, but it will take time and perseverance. There's no quick fix or easy out and, we need to be on guard for those who have simplistic and easy answers.
I've signed up for a potential council seat because like all of the people who have signed up, I really care for this city to thrive rather than survive. I'm also concerned about maintaining the area's natural beauty and quality of life I've witnessed isn't available in so many other areas.I am very much in favor of biomass that is appropriately sized and positioned and prefer the plan put forth by Clean Power. Their plan is smaller in scope to the Laidlaw plan, and it is located closer to Fraser which could be a very good blessing in providing steam to Fraser to keep Fraser alive. I also believe that Clean Power's plant offers a healthier location as it is further removed from the city's population. Additionally, I don't think any other buyer would want to be so close to the city's pollution control facility, so it must be the highest and best use of that site. I can't say as a real estate professional that the highest and best use of the Burgess mill site is for biomass. I am also concerned deeply about forest sustainability as I understand that the trees many of the mills used for pulp are no longer being cut leaving less wood for biomass plants. Additionally we have been home to liquidation harvesting that has ruined some of this areas most treasured areas such a Success, where Americas oldest ski touring center, Nansen had to move, as did many other people who would prefer to have a forest to recreate within.I understand that industry is important to Berlin and also understand that Berlin has tremendous potential to offer a difference in recreational activities that attracting people to this area already. I am excited to be involved in Berlin right now and can see great potential happening right before our eyes in the planning and building stages of the Federal prison, biomass proposals, ATV movements to expand east to west and north to south, housing developments and more. Becoming a council member will simply be a transition from work I am already very much involved with on a personal level. Having worked and managed for three real estate franchises during my 24 tenure in the industry, I have experience in marketing and bringing people to this city and selling them on this city in good and bad times. I've run for council to help this city move forward not backward.Having a father who invented and patented to make the paper industry safer for its workers, I respect the hard working mill workers that made this area what it is and at the same time recognize it's not only important to preserve their heritage but to move on to a new diversified and healthier economy.Personally, I think the city, mayor and council have started the difficult job of navigating this city through a desperate economy where we stand to be in much better shape than most of New England despite a national economy next year. With the influx of a predicted 1400 people this area will witness a new Berlin, that with a Federal prison and biomass facility can be virtually recession proof. We just need to be careful of our quality of life and that is where I think I can help this city most.I can't think of a more exciting time to be a member of council than perhaps the 1920's and I'd be privileged to be part of the team that has already been established. Jonathan Edwards
Norm and Jon –I want to provoke positive discussion on LPJ, and sometimes I feel like you two pull the conversation off track. Not today. Thank you both for your thoughtful comments. They are heartfelt and sincere, the type of perspective everyone in Berlin should share in order to determine what is best for the city's future.So thank you.I do wish someone representing those people Norm talked about were on here and would comment. Their opinion would be crucial; it's not something commonly heard around city hall.
Forget about it Eric. You won't hear from Bob "PSNH" Danderson or Paul "LLEG" Grenier on this board. You'll have to interview them to get their thoughts on how wonderful biomass in downtown Berlin will be for the City and for the surrounding forests and for the people living next to it.
Ryan, I think your idea of the Berlin Reporter switching to Mondays is a money maker and it would provide a much higher level of reporting for this area to begin their week with. Jon
Jon, Great job on the response. Glad to see you are backing your words with action entering the race. I bet readership of the Berlin Reporter would quadruple under my plan….. Erik, I'd love to give my thoughts on the election, but there is no way in the world I could do it in 500 characters…..(Have you seen my posts?)Have a great day everyone……Ryan Landry
From Erik's column on the Clean Power complaint yesterday in the Reporter, seems to me this is headed towards a formal investigation. Jon Edwards"That's kind of an open question right now," said Anne Ross, the PUC's general council, one that will be decided if the PUC decides to investigate the case. The state's other two utilities send out requests for proposals, she said, and then compare all the proposals before making a decision. PSNH is the only one that doesn't have an open procedure for awarding contracts."…another company requesting info from the PUC on this complaint filed recently for information;http://easternconstructionmanagement.com/projects.htmlECM-Eastern Construction Management, LLC.Construction Managers. Consultants + Estimators+ Schedulers29-Sept-2009Ms. Debra HowlandExecutive Director and SecretaryN.H. Public Utilities Commission21 South Fruit Street, Suite 10Concord, N.H. 03301Ref: PUC Docket No: 09-067Dear Ms. Howland,Eastern Construction Management, LLC has been closely following PUC Docket No:09-067. We respectfully request the additionof ECM to the Service List concerning this docket. Eastern Construction Management has been active in lobbying for theadvancement of the Clean Power Development, Biomass Energy Production Facility proposed for Berlin, NH. We believe that theClean Power project is the only environmentally and economically responsible option for biomass energy production in the area.Our firm feels that Public Service Company of New Hampshire has a constitutional, statutory, regulatory, and ethical responsibilityto consider all power supply offers. By repeatedly failing to even consider a purchase power agreement from an indigenousrenewable energy provider, they have demonstrated a disregard for free and fair competition. As a regulated utility with an exclusivedistribution franchise, their failure to encourage competitive energy markets and provide electricity buyers and sellers withappropriate price signals is clearly contrary to the requirements of state law and policy.Sh service be issued electronically please email to c.hodge~eastemconstructionmanagement.comegardhristop . PresidentE Construction Management, LLC400
The PUC is corrupt. There won't be an investigation.
Without an investigation they prove your theory of corruption without a shadow of a doubt. That is why they will investigate. Sit back and watch. Jon